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Egypt's First Web Prisoner Of Conscience

by jonathan Friday, Nov. 30, 2001 at 8:44 PM

Egypt's First Web Prisoner Of Conscience

''He is Egypt's first web prisoner of conscience," quipped one recipient of the news that a web designer was arrested last week, charged with posting an indecent poem on the Internet. Although the incident was not entirely unique -- people have been hounded in the past for posting Internet content deemed to be offensive to public morals -- the case of Shohdy Naguib, Al-Ahram Weekly's 39-year-old web master, is different because it relates to freedom of literary expression.

Shohdy Naguib was taken from his home by police in the early hours of 22 November. He was accused of posting a poem by his late father, Naguib Surur -- a renowned poet, playwright, theatrical critic and actor who died in 1978 -- on a Web site. Naguib denied connection to the site. Although the prosecutor ordered his release on bail on the very same day of his arrest, Naguib remained in custody until 25 November, three days later.


Naguib agrees. "The Internet is a virtual place where copies of everything proliferate. There are no Internet authorities as such, with the exception of those whose task is to make the net function. It doesn't have an owner, and won't unless a super-power emerges to control it," he told the Weekly. Cyberspace, he argued, belongs to all those who participate in it. "We cannot let it be a playground where only cats are allowed in and mice are banished."''

- Al-Ahram Weekly

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