[JURIST] The trial of 22-year-old Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil [advocacy website], who has been in detention since November on charges of insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife in his blog [website, in Arabic], has begun in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Nabils writings are often critical of Islamic authorities and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [official profile], who he has described as a dictator. The charges read at the beginning of the trial on Thursday include inciting sedition, insulting Islam, harming national unity and insulting the president. If convicted, Nabil faces up to 9 years in prison.
While blogging has become common in Egypt over the past few years, Nabils supporters say that government repression and censorship has only become prevalent recently, as the US has begun to back away from political pressure for reforms. The first arrests of bloggers occurred in 2005, however all previous detentions have resulted in the bloggers being released without charges. Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] has named Egypt an Internet enemy [report]. AP has more.