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Arabisc: In Keeping with Fashion, Algerian Blogger Sued

An Algerian official has today filed a case against blogger Abdulsalam Baroudi, accusing him of libel for an article he posted on his blog. This will be the first time a blogger is sued for his online writings in this North African country.

Baroudi is unruffled and says he has nothing to worry about.

تلقيت صباح اليوم تبليغا من طرف الأمن الولائي لتلمسان لمثولي يوم السبت أمام الشرطة القضائية على إثر الدعوى القضائية التي رفعها مدير الشؤون الدينية لولاية تلمسان بتهمة القذف بعد المقال الذي نشرته على مدونتي “بلاد تلمسان” يوم 20فيفري 2007 تحت عنوان السيستاني يظهر بتلمسان .وكان مدير الشؤون الدينية قد طلب في وقت لا حق من الوزارة الوصية الترخيص له بمقاضاتي وبذلك تكون هذه الهيئة الدينية قد فتحت أول باب للمتابعة القضائية ضد المدونين في وقت كانت المنظمات الدولية الحقوقية والمهتمة بحرية التعبير قد صنفت الجزائر ضمن الدول التي يتمتع فيها مستعملوا الأنترنيت بحرية واسعة في التدوين خلال تقرير 2006 بينما صنفت 4 دول عربية في خانة البلدان التي تضيق على حرية التعبير في الأنترنيت وهي مصر وتونس وسوريا والسعودية
“I received summons from the Tlemcen Province‘s Security to make myself present in front of the Judiciary on Saturday after Tlemcen Religious Affairs Director filed a libel case against me for the article I posted on my blog The Province of Tlemcen on February 20 under the title Al Sistani Appears in Tlemcen.
“The official had earlier requested the ministry to allow him to sue me and (by giving him the go ahead) this ministry has now opened the door for the initiation of legal proceedings against bloggers.
“This is happening at a time when organisations monitoring freedom of expression have classified Algeria among the countries in which Internet users enjoy a wide freedom in blogging in their 2006 reports which listed four Arab countries – Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Syria – as being restrictive of freedom of expression on the Internet,” he wrote.

Baroudi says journalists will be meeting tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the case.

وبالمناسبة أقول إن اللجوء إلى العدالة من طرف الشؤون الدينية لا يخيفنا لأننا ندرك أنه المكان الطبيعي الذي نفتك فيه حقوقنا لكن العيب أن نعتبر انفسنا منزهين عن الأخطاء وفوق كل الشكوك فقد تناولت في الموضوع الذي إعتبر مدير الشؤون الدينية قضية منع الأئمة من التحدث في وسيلة إعلامية هي الإذاعة العمومية ومن العيب أن نمنع الأئمة من الدعوة إلى الله وكان الأجدر ان اتهم بعدم الإساءة للدين فلو أسأت للدين على مدونتي لكانت مديرية الشؤون الدينية تغض الطرف لأن قداسة المسؤولين في الشؤون الدينية أكبر من قداسة الدين على ما يبدو .
“Taking this case to court doesn't scare me because I am certain that court is the right place to get our rights. What is wrong is that we think we are above criticism. I have tackled this issue after the Director of Religious Affairs banned Imams (Islamic clergymen) from speaking on public radio. It is wrong to stop Imams from preaching for Allah. It would have been better for them to accuse me of not being insulting to religion. I don't think the Directorate of Religious Affairs would have prosecuted me had I insulted religions on this blog. They would have turned away from that because it seems that the sacredness of officials at the directorate is more important than the sanctity of religion,” he writes.

Meanwhile, in keeping with his plans, Moroccan blogger Mohammed Saeed Hjiouij
who had earlier announced that he would dedicate the week from March 25 to 31 to highlighting his favourite Arabic blogs, has started detailing the blogs he likes.

Today he sheds light on two Egyptian blogger brothers – Ahmed and Amr Gharbeiya.

أحمد غربية وعمرو غربية صاحبي مدونتي طي المتصل وحوليات صاحب الأشجار، على التوالي، يعتبران من أبرز المدونين المصريين، خاصة عمرو الذي يعتبر من أوائل المدونين العرب على الإطلاق.
عمرو سبق له أن فاز سنة 2005 بجائزة الـ BOBs لأفضل مدونة عربية. وهو يكتب في مواضيع متعددة، وعضو نشط من المجتمع المدني المصري. من آخر مبادراته تأسيس موقع (سيبونا) للاحتجاج على دعوة أحد القضاة المصريين الحكومة المصرية لحجب ومنع بعض المواقع والمدونات.
أحمد غربية لا يقل نشاطه عن نشاط أخيه عمرو. شخصيًا أعتبر مدونة طي المتصل من المدونات العربية النادرة التي تتناسب وفهمي لمفهوم التدوين. نقطة الضعف الوحيدة لدى أحمد هي عدم التحديث الدوري المتواصل للمدونة.
Ahmed and Amr Gharbeiya are considered Egypt's leading bloggers, especially Amr who is actually one of the first people to ever blog in Arabic. He covers a number of topics and is active in civil society. He has won the Best of the Blogs (BOBs) award for the Best Egyptian site in 2005. His latest initiative is setting up the Sebona site, which protests the call of an Egyptian judge to block a number of blogs and websites. Ahmed Gharbeiya‘s efforts are not any less than his brother's. Personally, I find his blog among the rare Arabic blogs which suit my understanding of what a blog should be like. Ahmed‘s weakest point is that he doesn't update his blog regularly,” he explains.

The site Sebona, which literally translates to Leave Us, has been launched to campaign against a lawsuit being brought by Egyptian Judge Abdel Fattah Mourad to block 21 blogs and websites in Egypt, which are deemed a danger to the country's national interests and insulting to its president Hosni Mubarak.

Moving on, another Egyptian Bobs award winning blogger Jar Al Qamar is back in Egypt after spending two weeks in the US, where he was bombarded with details about Anna Nicole Smith‘s death and the custody battle still going on.

عدت الى مصر لاجد ان عبد الكريم سيقضي حتما سنواته الاربع التاليه -وريما اكثر- في سجن ما عقابا له على زرطات تدوينيه .. و ان رئيس محكمة استئناف الاسكندريه السابق يقاضي مدونين آخرين بتهمة اهانة رئيس الجمهوريه ..و ان مالكا قد تم اختطافه في سياره زرقاء .. و ان الامن قد عاد ليقبض على المتظاهرين بعد توقف – المتظاهرين او الامن او كليهما . و ان اكثر من ثلاثين مادة حيوية في دستور البلد تم اقرار تعديلها و تحديد الاستفتاء عليها خلال ايام .. و ان الاي بود الذي فزت به بصفتي صاحب هذه المدونه وصل الى بر مصر بعد خمسة اشهر من اعلان الفوز به , غير انه محتجز في مكتب بريد سيدي بشر بحري حتى التحصل على مبلغ الف و خمسة جنيهات نظير رسوم الجمارك و الارضية و الشحن و اكراميات العمال و خلافه
“I returned to Egypt to find that Abdulkareem will definitely spend the next four years of his life or probably more in jail as punishment for what he wrote on his blog; that the former head of the Alexandria Appeal Court has filed a case against other bloggers for insulting the president; that (blogger) Malek has been kidnapped in a blue car; that the Security Forces are back to arresting protesters after a break – on the part of the demonstrators, security forces or both; that more than 30 vital clauses in our constitution have been approved and that a public referendum is set for the next few days.. and that the Ipod I won as the owner of this blog has arrived in Egypt five months after the announcement was made and that it is being held in the Seydi Beshr Post Office, and that I can only collect it after paying 1,500 Egyptian pounds in taxes, handling charges, shipping, tips for employees and other charges,” he notes.

And what does he say about all this?

درسان مستفادان : الاول هو ان الوقت و الاحداث يمران في مصر اسرع من خارجها .. ..
اما الثاني فهو ان حتى لوني قمحي لون خيرك يا مصر
“I have learned two lessons from all this. One: Time and incidents happen in Egypt faster than anywhere else in the world. Two: I am wheat-coloured – the colour of the blessings of Egypt,” he writes.

13 comments

  • “I returned to Egypt to find that Abdulkareem will definitely spend the next four years of his life or probably more in jail as punishment for what he wrote on his blog”

    Well, a more honest translation would be “…spend the next four years of his life or probably more in jail as punishment for blogging farts“.

    This is important because it has important under-tones. Don’t you think.

  • Point taken Ahmed! For the purposes of accuracy, Ahmed’s translation is spot on. The word زرطات means farts in colloquial Egyptian Arabic. I tried to avoid using it – but if you are happy with the fart.. then so am I! Thanks for the clarification.

  • Socrates

    The important undertones of farts… oh yes!

  • Ayesha Saldanha

    Ahmad, I think I would go with Amira’s choice on this one; even though “blogging farts” is an accurate translation, it actually doesn’t mean much to an English speaker (at least not to me) – but perhaps there’s an equivalent expression that would retain the undertones. If I think of one I’ll let you know!

  • The phrase is not a standard Arabic construct or cliché either! But, Ayesha, I doubt that an English reader will miss the meaning which the original blogger aims at: that he doesn’t hold Kareem’s views highly, in spite of being pissed off by his trial. I guess this is important when reporting someone’s views. Don’t you think so, Socrates? Since we are not here to discuss the author’s choice of words, in the first place, or to enhance it!

  • It is interesting to note that the fact that legal action is being taken against an Algerian blogger for the first time didn’t generate as much comment as that dedicated to the relevance of ‘hot air’ in the context of a sentence!

  • Ayesha Saldanha

    Hi Ahmad – without wanting to prolong the discussion, I should add that I’m commenting as a native English speaker, and that meaning didn’t come across in the expression “blogging farts”. I’ve thought about it, and the suggestion I would make for translating “زرطات تدوينيه ” is “the bilge on his blog”. But as Amira suggests, we’re getting distracted by minutiae!

  • […] Abdulsalam Baroudi is one of the first Algerian bloggers to be sued by Tlemcen’s Director of Religious Affairs, who has accused the blogger of posting defamatory material on his personal blog on February 20, under the title “Al Sistani Appears in Tlemcen“. In a post translated earlier by GV’s Arabic Language Editor, Amira Al Hussaini, Abdulsalam wrote: I received summons from the Tlemcen Province’s Security to make myself present in front of the Judiciary on Saturday after Tlemcen Religious Affairs Director filed a libel case against me for the article I posted on my blog The Province of Tlemcen on February 20 under the title Al Sistani Appears in Tlemcen. […]

  • شكرا على المتابعة والإهتمام بموضوع مدونة بلاد تلمسان والقضية أحيلت على محمكمة تلمسان للتحقيق فيها وأنا لدى الثقة في أن العدالة ستحكم لصالح تكريس حرية التعبير التي نناضل من أجلها وهي الحرية التي دفع الجزائريون مئاة الآلاف من الشهداء من أجلها.

  • […] blogger is being taken to court for articles posted on his personnel blog. Abdulsalam Baroudi is being sued by Tlemcen’s Director of Religious Affairs, who has accused the blogger of posting defamatory material on his personal blog on February 20, […]

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