Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Egyptian jailed for insult poem


A civil servant in Egypt has been jailed for three years for insulting President Hosni Mubarak in a poem, according to newspaper reports.
Moneer Said Hanna's family said he wrote satirical poetry for fun, to entertain his work colleagues, and never meant to hurt anyone.
The case was largely unknown until the family asked a newspaper to publish an appeal for clemency.
The Arab Network for Human Rights says it will appeal against the sentence.
It says Mr Hanna, who worked as a civil servant in a small town in upper Egypt, was tried without being given access to a lawyer.
His younger brother, Hanna Said, said that Moneer Said Hanna began writing poetry only recently and was encouraged when his colleagues at the office enjoyed reading it.
But things took a turn for the worse when he began to write about problems at work and everyday life.
He was summoned for interrogation and put on trial for insulting the head of state.
Under Egyptian law, insulting the president can land the offender in jail for up to three years.
The newspaper that published Mr Hanna's appeal for clemency did not publish any verses from the incriminating poem.
The BBC's Arab affairs analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi, says the case is bound to raise questions as to why the authorities decided to act against this largely unknown amateur writer, when satirical poems about President Mubarak by known poets are widely available in Egypt and on the internet.


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