Egypt: drop charges against video blogger Ahmed Anwar
“It’s ironic that May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day and I’m facing trial the next day just for posting a video.” Egyptian blogger Ahmed Anwar
In Egypt, making fun of the authorities is no laughing matter. It’s a criminal offence.
When blogger Ahmed Anwar posted a video of belly-dancing policemen on-line, he expected to get some laughs. Instead, he’s on trial for “criticizing” the Interior Ministry and “misusing” the Internet.
In March 2012, Ahmed Anwar posted a video on-line which made fun of police officers giving an award to an actress, calling them “the ministry of belly dancers”. The video, showing police officers dancing, criticizes police brutality and impunity for human rights abuses. The Tanta Public Prosecution bought a case against him after the Ministry of Interior complained about the video. Ahmed Anwar was arrested by police at his house on March 17, 2013 and referred for trial ten days later. His trial started on May 4. The next hearing is scheduled for June 1.
Ahmed Anwar is also charged under Law 10 of 2003 related to the organization of communication, for alleged misuse of the Internet by posting the video. If convicted he faces up to three years in prison and significant fines.
Ahmed Anwar is just one of the many targeted in a new crackdown on freedom of expression. Scores of Egyptians – from famous comedians to opposition activists – have faced interrogation for criticising the authorities. Some have been charged with “insulting the President” while others face trumped-up or politically motivated criminal charges.
The right to freedom of expression includes criticising and mocking public officials. The Egyptian authorities should stop gagging comedians and blopggers and start to get serious about human rights reform.
Please write letters to Egypt’s Public Prosecutor calling on him to:
- Drop all charges against Ahmed Anwar, and any other person charged with insulting public officials or religion.
- Drop any charges against individuals brought solely for their opposition activism, their criticism of the authorities, or their work to expose human rights violations.
- Stop investigating defamation cases as a criminal offence and ensure such cases are dealt with under civil, not criminal, law.
Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Supreme Court House
1 26 July Road
Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2 577 4716 / +202 2 575 7165
Leave messages via this website: www.ppo.gov.eg/
You can also take action through these social media streams: