The Freedom of Expression Between Hammer of the State and the Anvil of Islamic Groups
The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) follows up with deep concern the dual attack on the freedoms of opinion, expression and creativity by the government and Islamic groups, represented in the members of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), the government whips people expressing their opinions and creativity and take them to the courts for Hessba charges. Islamic groups in their turn take every creativity or opinion contradicting theirs as blasphemy that deserves raising their swords. As an example of this climate, the poet Helmi Salem was attacked by both sides because of his poem entitled “the balcony of Laila Mourad” published in “Creativity” magazine of the ministry of culture. A report by Al-Azhar’s Islamic research assembly accused Salem of blasphemy and insulting God. In its turn, the ministry of culture reclaimed this issue of the magazine from the bookshops. Heads of Islamic groups were not satisfied with this action by the ministry. They issued a statement signed by 100 sheikhs in whom they declared Salem as disbeliever and calling him to repent and return to God. As in the case of the poet and writer Ahmed Abd-Al-Mou’ty Heggazi, legal proceedings were taken against Helmi Salem.
As the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) defends Helmi Salem and expresses its solidarity with him, it at the same time defends all principles and standards guaranteed by universal conventions, mainly the freedoms of opinion and expression.
APHRA takes its defense of Salem’s rights as a defense of the freedoms of opinion and expression themselves, and sees the restriction of his freedom as an aggression on the universal human rights conventions and the Egyptian constitution. APHRA expresses its anxiety that these actions may be a beginning of political Islamic trend that antagonizes the freedoms of opinion and expression and human rights as a whole. APHRA, therefore, calls the Egyptian government to rapidly issue a law stopping Hessba claims and conscience inspections and to close this backward outlet through which extremists attack human rights. APHRA also calls Azhar to keep away from the freedoms of opinion and expression.
the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) also calls civil society organizations and activists to join forces to defend Helmi Salem, as a defense of the freedoms of opinion and expression at the same time.