Appeal hearing next week for journalist sentenced to prison for putting poem on website

first_img Organisation News October 14, 2002 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Appeal hearing next week for journalist sentenced to prison for putting poem on website February 6, 2021 Find out more As expected, cyber-dissident Shohdy Surur’s prison sentence was confirmedon 14 October by the appeals court. He lives in Russia and did not attendthe hearing.________________________________________________________________11 octobre 2002Reporters Without Borders expressed support today for Shohdy Surur (see sketch by Gamil Shafiq of Al-Ahram), webmaster for the Egyptian Al Ahram Weekly, whose appeal will be heard next week against a one-year prison sentence he received in June for posting on another website a sexually-explicit, socially critical poem written by his late father 30 years ago. “This conviction, unprecedented in Egypt, is quite grotesque,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. “Why should he be declared guilty today of something written back then by his father, who was himself never prosecuted when he was alive?”While claiming they are defending public decency, the authorities are really trying to stifle free expression on the Internet. In 1993, the constitutional high court ruled that the right to criticise people, including public officials, was an integral part of democracy. This right should apply to any media,” Ménard said, adding that if Surur’s sentence was confirmed, “Egypt will be joining the club of countries who are enemies of the Internet.”Surur was sentenced on 30 June under article 178 of the penal code, which forbids possession of material for sale or distribution “with intent to corrupt public morals.” He had posted on a website, www.wadada.net, which is partly devoted to the work of his poet and actor father Naguib, a poem called Kuss Ummiyat, which contained passages said to be “an affront to public morals.”The poem was written by the elder Surur (see sketch), in earthy and sexually-explicit language, as a criticism of Egyptian society and culture after the country’s defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel. He several times likens Egypt to a prostitute. Since no law refers to the Internet, the state brought charges under the law on public morals.The poem has been on the US-based www.wadada.net for the past three years. Its author, who died in 1978, was never prosecuted for writing it. Though never published in Egypt, it is very well-known there and audio cassettes of it easily found.Shohdy Surur was arrested on 22 November last year at his home, which was searched and his computer seized. Police interrogated him for three days. Surur, who has dual Russian and Egyptian nationality and lives in Russia, will not be attending the appeal hearing, set for 14 October in Cairo, which means the appeal might be rejected and the jail sentence confirmed.Surur was born in Russia, his mother’s nationality, and is one of Russia’s Internet pioneers. He was part of the team that created the country’s first webzine (www.zhurnal.ru), where a Russian translation of John Barlow’s “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” appeared which he later translated into Arabic. From 1998, he worked in Cairo as webmaster of the English-language Al-Ahram Weekly’s website.A petition is available at www.wadada.net News Follow the news on Egypt January 22, 2021 Find out more RSF_en Receive email alerts Newscenter_img News EgyptMiddle East – North Africa Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein back home after four years in prison February 1, 2021 Find out more Less press freedom than ever in Egypt, 10 years after revolution Detained woman journalist pressured by interrogator, harassed by prison staff EgyptMiddle East – North Africa to go further Help by sharing this information last_img read more