So much for the Arab Spring. Egyptian activist and protestor Ahmen Douma was arrested last month for insulting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and was just handed a six month jail sentence for the offense.
Douma, one of the Morsi’s most prominent critics, called the president “a killer,” which he later specified on May 13 was a “fact [formed by] a political opinion.”
The media outlet Daily News Egypt, the country’s only independent English-language newspaper, has reported that there has been a record-breaking spike in lawsuits filed for insulting the president — more so than under any previous Egyptian ruler. President Morsi, Egypt’s leading Islamist candidate and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, assumed office after winning elections in June of last year. He has denied charges that he’s been suppressing his critics.
“What Douma has said is what all the people in the street are saying,” said Rami Ghareb, a lawyer representing Douma. Supporters have been gathering around the courthouse to show their support for the activist, shouting slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood, which they claim to be antagonistic to liberals and Christians. Ghareb said Douma’s sentence was “politicized.”
Sherif Diab, an activist and co-founder of the group Emsek F’lol (“Snatch up the Old Regime”), was one of those gathering in Douma’s defense. “A lot of people have gathered today,” he said, “and we have faith that Douma will be freed.”
Douma has the option of paying a bail of EGP 5,000 (about $705), as well as EGP 200, to be released until his appeal.