UPDATE: Maikel Nabil faces trial for “insulting the military”

Ekram Ibrahim , Tuesday 5 Apr 2011

Activists protest the planned trial of blogger Maikel Nabil before of a military court, arguing the trial breaches human rights

Maikel Nabil

Egyptian pacifist and blogger Maikel Nabil faces trial on Wednesday at a military court for “insulting the military” and “disturbing public security” because of his latest blog entry “The army and the people wasn’t ever one hand.” Nabil was taken from his home and detained on March 28.

Nabil’s blog entry is a study on the Egyptian military’s actions before, during and after the revolution. He supported his argument with links to articles and videos.

“This is a well-researched piece. I see no reason for his trial. Freedom of expression gives him the right to criticize the military,” Andreas Speck from War Resisters International (WRI), who travelled to Cairo to follow up on the case, told Ahram Online. War Resisters’ International (WRI) is an international anti-war organization with members and affiliates in over thirty countries.

The detention of Nabil on the basis of his blog post conflicts with the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights, which Egypt has signed.

“This trial is a violation of Article 14 and 19 of the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights, which gives him the right to be tried in a civil court and guarantees freedom of expression,” Speck told Ahram Online.

Rights activists condemn the act of putting civilians on trial in military courts. “This is against human rights. The trials are fast and harsh with no time for defence,” Adel Ramadan, human rights lawyer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) told Ahram Online.

The story of Nabil and the Egyptian military started two years ago when he created a Facebook group called “No for compulsory military service.” “We created this group two years ago and we don’t think that it is fair that military service remains compulsory,” said Sahar Maher, a human rights activist who is a member of the Facebook group.

Nabil is the first Egyptian to refuse to attend compulsory military service because of his pacifist beliefs, yet he is not a shirker. He announced in a statement on his blog on October 2010 entitled “I will not serve in the Egyptian army and I bear the consequences” that “I know that my decision means that I will pay a high price…but freedom has a price and I am a free person. I have no objection to paying the price of my freedom.”

Nabil was detained on 4 February for 27 hours with other pro-revolution protesters, and according to his own published accounts, he was mistreated by the military. He was also detained by military intelligence on 12 October last year because he did not report for military service when ordered to do so.  He was released two days later.

Currently three human rights lawyers are working on Nabil’s case; Adel Ramadan, from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Haitham Mohamadin, from El-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Mohamed Radi, from Lawyers’ United Group. 

However, Nabil has failed to win the support of many activists because of his supportive attitude towards Israel; he has called for Egypt and Israel to co-exist peacefully and to put an end to the conflict between them. Nabil’s views on Israel stem from his beliefs on individualism and individual liberties. “I refused the continued harassment which the Egyptian regime does against Israel, as getting involved without a justification in the 1948 war,” Nabil wrote on his blog.

It is expected that Nabil will recieve a sentence on Thursday.

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