Hours after his release, blogger Maikel Nabil lambasts military ruler Tantawi

Sherif Tarek , Wednesday 25 Jan 2012

Maikel Nabil's release from jail did not persuade him to tone down his criticism of military rule, as he lashed out at Tantawi and the SCAF hours later

Maikel Nabil
An archive photo of Maikel Nabil (Photo: El-Ahram)

Hours after his release from military prison, blogger and staunch military critic Maikel Nabil reiterated his flat refusal of military rule in a strongly-worded video statement posted on YouTube.

Nabil, who was imprisoned for over ten months, was freed late Monday shortly after Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi pardoned 1959 prisoners just ahead of the January 25 Revolution’s first anniversary.

However, the Coptic activist was far from grateful to Tantawi for his release. On the contrary, he described the de facto president as a “military dictator” and called on the revolutionaries to keep protesting against the interim military rule.

“I am talking to you now as there are only a few minutes left before the beginning of 25 January, 2012,” said Nabil, who did not appear to have lost much weight and whose hair grew longer than before being incarcerated. “This is the first time I can talk to you directly after 302 days, which was the period of my imprisonment ordered by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF].

“I want everyone to know that I categorically refuse the decision of the military dictator Mohamed Hussein Tantawi to absolve me. I strenuously reject the word ‘pardon’ because I did not commit a crime to be pardoned by the leader of the army,” he said.

 “I was practicing my right to express my opinion freely, to adopt a certain belief and to promote my thoughts. I did not commit a crime.”

Nabil, who also panned the military council for not removing the charges from his criminal record, insinuated that his release was only ordered to soothe the public ahead of today’s nationwide protests against the SCAF.

“If the SCAF thinks this is a way to abort the revolution and persuade some people not to hit the streets tomorrow on 25 January to chant for the fall of the military rule, I would like to stress that my release does not mean the military is good, that the regime has changed, nor is there democracy and freedom of speech in Egypt,” he explained.

“And I would like you to know that the 302 days that I lived in prison were full of suffering and pain, thanks to direct instructions from the members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

“That means we are under a political regime that is corrupt, tyrannical and bloodthirsty and which we cannot leave in power for one more day, as this would jeopardize our lives and those of our siblings and loved ones.”

Nabil was arrested in March on charges of insulting the military after writing a blog post entitled “The army and the people were never one hand,” one month after the military junta assumed power following the ouster of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak on 11 February.

He was initially handed a sentence of three years in prison, which was reduced to two years following a retrial.

Nabil went on hunger strike in August 2011, consuming only juice and milk. This escalated on 18 December when he refused all forms of nourishment before ending his strike on 31 December.

During the video, Nabil thanked both Egyptian and foreign activists who backed his cause during his time in jail, saying that he was not only released because of his infamous hunger strike, but also because of their support.

“Of course I miss politics, going to Tahrir [Square], writing on my blog and getting into discussions with people, even if they disagree with me,” he said. “I need to rest for a couple of days to recuperate, physically and psychologically. I will get back to the frontlines of the revolution as soon as I can,” he concluded.

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