EIPR Calls for Detained Qur'ani Blogger's Immediate Release

Press Release

30 October 2008

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) today called for the immediate release of Reda Abdel-Rahman, a 32-year old blogger who was detained by the Ministry of Interior on 27 October for being a "Qur'ani"*. EIPR lawyers filed a complaint yesterday calling on the Public Prosecutor to disclose the blogger's whereabouts and allow his family and lawyers to visit him immediately. The complaint further urged the Public Prosecutor to investigate the detention of Abdel-Rahman solely on the basis of his religious views.  

Officers from the Ministry of Interior's State Security Intelligence (SSI) Service raided Abdel-Rahman's home in the Abu Hreiz village in Kafr Saqr province of Sharqiyya Governorate in the early hours of Monday morning. They searched the house and confiscated the blogger's computer and a number of his books and CDs before detaining him. His family and lawyers have been unable to obtain information about the reason for his detention and he has not appeared before any judicial body since his arrest.

"Reda Abdel-Rahman is the latest victim of systemic violations of freedom of belief and expression by the State Security Intelligence," said Adel Ramadan, the EIPR's Legal Officer who represents the blogger's family. "We are waiting for the Public Prosecutor to intervene immediately to stop these violations and end impunity for their perpetrators."

The EIPR received information that the detained blogger has been interrogated at least twice by officers in the SSI headquarters in Kafr Saqr. Questions reportedly revolved around the detainee's Qur'ani beliefs and whether he believed in the validity of the Sunna (Prophet Mohammad's legacy). The EIPR also learned that SSI officers compelled the blogger to reveal the password of his electronic mail account and deprived him of food for the first two days of his detention.

Abdel-Rahman has published many articles addressing Islamic issues on a number of websites in addition to his blog, entitled "Justice Freedom Peace". He works as a social worker in a preparatory school affiliated to Al-Azhar University. Last July he published on his blog a detailed account of his questioning by Al-Azhar's legal affairs department around his online articles. According to this account, at the end of the investigation he was pressured to sign a statement pledging to "stop publishing any articles on the internet or any religious writing."   

* Qur'anis are Muslims who believe the Qur'an to be the paramount source of Islamic Jurisprudence.