Egypt: 80 Lashes = An Upside Down Country

What happens when you mix a desperate dictator, a corrupt religious leader, opposition voices and a vulnerable nation? A dysfunctional union between Hosni Mubarak, Al Azhar University and their anti-freedom condemnations, say Egyptian bloggers.

Here's part of my analysis from earlier today…

The most recent mess is this insane so called “Fatwa” (Islamic religious edict) by the Egyptian Sheikh of Al Azhar, Mohammed Tantawy. He gave a speech Monday in front of an audience that included Hosni Mubarak, stating that “those who spread rumors” should receive 80 lashes, in reference to the recent indictment of journalists.

Eighty lashes?! Maybe there's something about Sharia law that might interest Mubarak after all.

From Nora Younis

sheikh of Azhar mosque preached a crowd of state officials including President Mubarak, finding religious grounds for whipping rumors spreaders 80 times

This comes as editors and journalists of independent media are sentenced to jail for publishing a wide spread talk-of-the-town on President Mubarak’s death

Mubaraks persecution of free press isnt exactly new as Baheyya points out but it has certainly sped up.

the two incidents do not herald an impending crackdown on the press, for the simple reason that Mubarak’s regime has been continuously cracking down on and intimidating independent journalists, from at least the early 1990s to the present. So I would caution against spinning these cases as unprecedented curbs on the freedom of the press. What’s more interesting to me about these recent events is what they reveal about the development of an adversarial press in Egypt.

Supression of opposition voices has been mounting quickly in the last year, its general desperation felt by the regime. Kareem Amer was the most notable victim and a couple days ago he released his most recent letter from prison…

Apparently, a quite long time has passed since the day of unjustly sentencing me to four years in prison. Until recently, I was not able to comment on the event because I had no access to media and I was deprived from exchanging mails or talking. I spent more than two months in the cells dedicated to those sentenced to death and serving punitive penalties. The prison officials claimed that there was no other proper place for me. They prevented me from having pens. Whenever I wanted to write a letter, I had no choice but to dictate it!

Now, things have changed greatly. At least, I can write and exchange mails, not with complete freedom though.

Not all is lost, the people have a voice thanks to the World Wide Web. The Arabist presents some videos by the people and for the people. Prepare yourself to laugh, here's a sample…


  • Mohamed

    This is the reason for terrorism. Religious leaders being “cooperative” with the the political leaders. The nationalistic movement of nasser, and what followed him preached hatred of America, and the west for no reason but to have a bogyman for the Egyptian and the Arab people to scare them off and have them too busy with hating the west instead of looking at their own problems. Nasser died and his useless communist ideology died with him, but the hate and the social problem lived long after him. Nasser bent the religious authority to agree with what he wants. I don’t see why the head of the religious authority in Egypt didn’t say that corrupt leaders should have their hands cut off too. Mubarak would be happy with that one, I bet. A lot of people blame islam for terrorism, it is not the reason, the reason are politicians like those who tailor religion to their needs. These young people are fed hate all their lives, they are taught to twist faith to their needs. I don’t care what faith these guys were, they would have done the same thing.

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