Protesters demand release of detained blogger

Sarah Raslan, Tuesday 11 Oct 2011

Demonstrators converge outside Cairo Military Court to express solidarity with detained activists, chant slogans against ruling military council

activist Maikel Nabil

Dozens of members of the “Free Maikel” group on Tuesday waited outside the Cairo military court in which detained blogger Maikel Nabil's sentence is being appealed and where activist Sahar Maher is currently standing trial.

Activists chanted slogans against Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) as they waited outside for the verdict.

"I really don't think he’ll be freed," said group member John Milad. "The authorities have been extremely stubborn in regard to Maikel's case, especially due to his opinions on Israel and the Egyptian army."

Nabil, who has been on hunger strike for 50 days and now weighs a mere 44 kilograms, has vowed to stop drinking water as well if today’s appeal trial fails to grant him his freedom.

Earlier this year, Nabil was sentenced to three years in prison by a military court for publishing a blog post entitled, “The people and the army were never one hand.”

Protesters’ chants against the SCAF became chants in support of Muslim-Christian unity after a local woman wielding a cross joined the demonstration.

Activists are also calling for the release of Ali Sultan and Khaled Saleh, two other civilians currently standing trial before military courts.

Since the February ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak, some 12,000 civilians have been hauled before military tribunals – to the frustration of activists who demand that civilians only be tried by civil courts.

In the meantime, Nabil’s health is deteriorating rapidly. His family and friends say they have sent the authorities more than 20 petitions requesting his transfer to hospital for medical treatment. But these, they say, have gone unanswered.

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