Detained Christian Blogger Pressured To Convert To Islam

Sunday, November 1, 2009

By Worthy News Middle East Service

Hani Nazeer has been in prison for over a year.
Hani Nazeer has been in prison for over a year.

CAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News)-- A Coptic Christian blogger, who has been detained for over a year in Egypt after criticizing authorities, is "being pressured" by violent prison authorities to convert to Islam in exchange for his freedom, attorneys and rights activists said.

Hani Nazeer, a 28-year-old high school social worker from Qena, Egypt and author of the blog 'Karz El Hob' ("Love Cherries") was detained without charge by Egyptian security forces and sent to Burj Al-Arab prison, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

The group, which is has launched legal action on behalf of the Internet writer, said Nazeer was "ruthlessly assaulted by prison officers" and inmates after refusing "to cave in" to demands to convert to Islam to obtain his release.

"He was pressured to turn to Islam. He is being beaten up and the prosecution is silent as a mouse," said ANHRI’s Executive Manager Gamal Eid in comments monitored by Worthy News Saturday October 31.


ANHRI has linked the detention to his critical writings about what Nazeer termed the "increasing Islamization of Egyptian civil society." He also angered some Coptic Orthodox Church leaders for their alleged involvement in the country's political establishment, suggested Eid.

"Hani [Nazeer] was given in [with] the aid of a bishop," Eid said, adding that te blogger is now squeezed between the church leadership and Islamic extremists.

Nazeer reportedly told his attorneys that Bishop Kirollos had told him he would be in jail only four days. His lawyers suspect collusion between Egyptian and church authorities.

Orthodox leaders and police officials have so far declined to comment on the case.

"Egyptian officials should be ashamed of lying about not applying the emergency law on prisoners of conscience," said Eid. "Hani Nazeer and [another blogger] Mosaad Abu Fagr were not arrested for drug dealing, but because of their writings and opinions." (With reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).