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SOS from an Egyptian blogger

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It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that the crackdown on protests happened one week after the Dahab terrorist attack, the sixth terrorist attack of its kind in the past 18 months. And it happened two weeks after three churches were attacked simultaneously in Alexandria, marking the fifth sectarian attack in Egypt in six months. The Egyptian police - unable to stop any of that - decided to do something about all of this by arresting peaceful protesters. Egyptian citizens have the right to die in attacks, but not the right to complain in public about it, it seems. That would be rude!

If arresting peaceful protesters on the street, week after week (653 last month alone), weren't enough, the Egyptian government is looking to end public dissent over the Internet. So far, six bloggers have been arrested. One of them is Alaa Abdel-Fatah, one of Egypt's most prominent bloggers. Mr. Abdel-Fatah runs an aggregator service for Egyptian blogs, using the space to help organize protests. He has been a thorn in the side of the Egyptian government for some time, which finally decided to handpick Abdel-Fatah and fellow bloggers out of a recent street protest and detain them. They have been in jail for three weeks now in a place that makes Abu Ghraib look like the Four Seasons.

Another blogger, Mohamed el-Sharqawi, was released, then rearrested two days later, just last Thursday. He was beaten up and says he was raped by the police before being thrown in jail again. There is still no word on what he is charged with, or how long he will be detained, since the emergency laws allow his indefinite incarceration without charges.

Needless to say, their detention is scaring other opposition bloggers - present company included - into thinking that they may be next. My blog has been receiving more and more hits from Egyptian government Internet provider addresses, but I tell myself I am just being paranoid. So what if the ministry of information visits me about 30 times a day? They must be fans!

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