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Egyptian Blogger’s Appeal Tomorrow March 12, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Africa, Censorship.
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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak probably had no idea what a firestorm would be let loose when his courts sentenced a blogger to four years in prison for defaming Islam and insulting Mubarak.

Egyptian blogger Kareem Nabeel Sulaiman’s appeal is expected to be heard by an Alexandria court tomorrow. (March 12)

The Egyptian blogger made history last month by being the first writer in his country to be sentenced to four years in prison for articles he wrote on his blog.

Source: globalvoicesonline.org

The latest reposte to Mubarak came in the form of a letter to the editor of the Washington Post  from Representative Trent Franks (R-Arizona).

What can Mubarak lose by freeing this blogger? Not much. If anything, he will have to take some misplaced criticism charging him with being an American toady. But he will have an easy comeback to that, since this harsh sentence has generated outrage all over the world. Freedom of speech is not an exclusively American value.

Related Link:Free Kareem: a website dedicated to the blogger’s release

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UN to Somalia: Release Journalists Support Press Freedom February 13, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Africa, Censorship.
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The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in Somalia , Ghanim Alnjjar,has called for the release of three Somali journalist detained shortly after Ethiopia’s lightning invasion of Somalia in late December 2007. The Ethiopians invaded that country to displace the Islamic Courts Union (BBC Backgrounder) and to aid in the installment of a transitional federal government.

The capital, Mogadishu, was warlord-dominated before the rise of the ICU, and Reuters reports that the four outlets shut down in Modadishu were HornAfrik Media, Shabelle Media network, a Koranic radio station (IQK), and the local office of Al-Jazeera.

The three journalists detained in Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, worked for a group called Haatuf Media Network.

The U.N. expert named them as Yusuf Abdi Gabode, Ali Abdi Din and Mohamed Omar Sheikh, but gave no indication of the charges against them.

Source: today.reuters.co.uk

The three were detained in Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent entity with no international recognition.

The Bush administration regards Ethiopia as a major U.S ally in the Horn of Africa, and U.S. helicopter gunships aided the Ethiopians during the December invasion.

Relevant Links: Alnjjar’s U.N. Press Release

More Articles by Ganim Alnjarr


Tags: Alnajjar | threats | Media | journalists | independent | freedom | Expert | called | somaliland | Somalia | Politics | Mohamed | Mogadishu | Abdi

Iraq’s African Shadow: Insurgency Grows , Peacekeepers Hesitate February 11, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Africa, Iraq.
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Ethiopia’s war against Somalia continues, with Ethiopian troops still very much present in the capital and other cities. Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, the country’s controversial political leader, invaded Somalia with U.S. assistance at Christmas. He pledged a quick, decisive war without a polonged occupation.

So far, things are not turning out as expected.

Zenawi promised to dislodge the Islamic Courts, a loose affiliation of Islamicist groups that had managed to control Mogadishu’s warlords and impose order throughout most of the country. At least two U.S. helicopter attacks supported Zenawi’s troops as they scored a quick rout of the Courts. Since the invasion and Zenawi’s declaration of victory, the peace has been at least punctuated, if not rocked, by attacks from an as yet ill defined insurgencies, as well as popular demonstrations in Mogadishu against what many Somaiis view as a foreign occupying force..

And as Mohammed Abdi Farah reports from Kismayu, the violence is not confined to Mogadishu.


At least four people, one of them a soldier have been killed and dozens more including senior Somalia military officers were wounded in a bomb explosion in the center of the southern Somalia port city of Kismayu on Sunday.

Source: somalinet.com

The Ethiopian government claims that the attacks came from “remnants” of the Islamic forces, although no group has claimed formal reponsibility.

Although Zenawi pledged to have all Ethiopian troops out of the country two weeks after taking the capital, not many have been withdrawn. Part of the difficulty is that the invasion plan involved using Ethiopian troops only as the sharp head of the spear and to replace them after the military victory with a diverse group of peacekeepers whose job it would be to keep civil order and to control any possible resurrection of the Islamicist movement.

Part of the problem is that only one part of a two step plan was in place before Ethiopia invaded. Zenawi apparently did not give much forethought to the peacekeeping force that was to stabilize Somalia after the initial military action. South Africa, one of the richest countries on the continent, outright refused to send troops. The request for troops has turned out to be a divisive political question in Uganda, a country known for its usual willingness to deploy in the region.

Members of the Ugandan Parliament believe they need more information about the contestants on both sides in order to avoid an Iraq-like scenario in which any post-invasion force winds up fighting a protracted war of occupation. Latif Ssebagala(MP) puts it this way:

Uganda is a member of the Organization of
Islamic Conference. Islamic States like Egypt , Djibouti , Libya and
Sudan , which are also members, have abstained. Don’t you think we
shall see a similar situation like that of Iraq unless we go back to
the drawing board? My colleague has rightly put it that over 95% of
Somalis are Muslims and they speak one language, so why are they
fighting each other? …According to the information I have the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC)
made a tactical withdraw. And since, presently, there are no genuine
negotiations between UIC and TFG; are we going for peacekeeping or
peace enforcement?

Charles Kabooza reporting on allafrica.com

Those are all good questions, and ones that must be answered if any intelligent policies are going to emerge . As with Iraq, it would have prudent to consider the peace long before the war started.The price of not doing so may well be a continuous , ever more fractious insurgency, popular opposition to the putative “liberators”, and bitter domestic debates in all the countries involved.

Iraq has a long shadow, indeed.

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