Egyptian blogger and computer science student, Alber Saber, has been arrested and charged with insulting Islam. He is being held in while the investigation continues. There are concerns for his safety in custody as he has already apparently had his neck slashed with a razor blade after guards told the prisoners of the reason for his arrest. It is almost certain the guard’s words were meant to encourage exactly this outcome.
Saber has also announced via family that he is starting a hunger strike.
On Wednesday, September 12th, a Muslim friend and neighbor using Saber’s computer reportedly discovered that he was the admin for the Egyptian Athiests Facebook page, which is the largest of several such groups online with over a thousand “likes”. On September 10 the notorious “Innocence of Muslims” had been posted on the site. Over the next two days crowds began to gather outside his house, threatening Saber and his mother.
On Thursday night Saber’s mother called the police, hoping for protection. When the police arrived however, rather than fending the threatening mob outside, they arrested her son.
The charge according to his lawyer and supporters, focuses on videos in which Saber discusses his own Coptic faith or lack thereof. This makes sense as to charge anyone for posting the “Innocence of Muslims” video would set an impossible precedent. Even conservative broadcasters have also shown the video, or sections of it on their shows. It is not yet clear however, which materials will be included in the case against him, which is currently in the hands of the General Prosecutor. The next hearing is expected in four days.
After talking with Saber’s friends it seems likely to me that Egypt’s Islamist leaders are hoping to create a local issue where they can be seen as the tough guys, to distract Egyptians from how the furor in the international arena, in the context of which they seem impotent.
You can show your support by liking the Free Alber Saber page on Facebook.