I've never been much of a placard-waving activist, but conversation with my colleague Tom Palmer, international ambassador of liberty, who knows about such things, has made me deeply concerned about the case of 22 year-old Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Soliman Amer, who was unjustly jailed by Egyptian government authorities for refusing to recant criticisms of repression and religious extremism on his blog. He has now been in jail for over 2 months, and there is now some concern that he may come to harm in prison, which is why a few good folks and I decided it is urgent to make a statement as soon as possible to the Egyptian government in support of Kareem's (and all of our) basic human rights to freedom of conscience and expression. “As soon as possible” would be tomorrow (Thursday) at noon.
We have organized a rally tomorrow outside the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau near Dupont Circle in Washington. If you are a blogger, and would be willing to spread the word on your blog, we would be extremely grateful. Better still, if you are in DC, come to the rally. We are trying to get a decent turnout of bloggers and blog readers from the DC area in order to create exposure for Kareem's case, and to send a clear message that the freedoms of conscience and expression are dear and not to be trifled with.
Please notify friends and colleagues you think might be interested, and encourage them to show up at noon tomorrow, or to spread the work to their friends and colleagues, etc. And I strongly encourage you, my good friend, to turn up tomorrow. We don't need a huge crowd. If we get just 10-15 or so people and we'll have accomplished something worth having done. The demonstration is over the lunch hour, just off Dupont, so it's easy to get to, and you can grab a sandwich on the way back to the office. I'd like to think that if I were sitting in jail simply for saying what I thought, others would do at least that much for you. Or at least a blog post.
If you think you're going to come, please drop me a line, just so I can keep track. And if you're interested in doing anything else to help.
The details about the vigil and Kareem's case are at the blog of the DC Coalition for Blog Freedom, an ad hoc group created to bring people together to help Kareem and no doubt (sadly) many others in the future. That's you!
Here is the FAQ about Kareem's situation and don't miss the links in the sidebar that tell the fuller story.
Please join us tomorrow, or least spread the word, to help a young man punished for speaking his mind.