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Egypt blogger appeals prison sentence for insulting Islam online

[JURIST] Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil [advocacy website; HRinfo backgrounder] Monday filed an appeal of his four-year prison sentence on charges of inciting sedition, insulting Islam, harming national unity and insulting the president in remarks he posted on his Internet blog [website, in Arabic] that attacked conservative Muslims. A court in Alexandria handed down the sentence [JURIST report] Thursday for statements that criticized Islamic authorities, including calling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official profile] a dictator and dubbing Al-Azhar University [university website], which previously expelled him from law school, "the university of terrorism." Although human rights groups have decried the sentence, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit [official profile] and other state officials and agencies support the verdict.

Nabil, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, faced a maximum of nine years in prison [JURIST report]. The court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the appeal March 12. AP has more.

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