The Story of Maikel Nabil --- A short video about the blogger, sentenced to 2 years for writing a post critical of the military
Large protests are anticipated in Cairo's Tahrir Square today, calling for the immediate release of Maikel Nabil, sentenced to two years in prison because of a single blog entry he made on 7 March criticising the military. Held in solitary confinement and denied medical assistance, Nabil has survived on milk and water for more than 130 days.
Nabil is only one of more than 12,000 Egyptian citizens imprisoned by the military regime since 28 January, but his critique resonates today, given the often brutal and reactionary actions of the military over the last nine months. A line seems particularly pertinent: "The revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator but not of the dictatorship". For many, the hope of the post-Mubarak transitional period faces the counter-revolution of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
In a piece for Egypt Independent, Jake Meth recounts his recent experience of the Egyptian military:
I was detained by the military at around 7 pm last Tuesday [20 December] for walking home. I must have been walking a menacing kind of walk. I often place one foot in front of the other and propel my body forward through space, which I now understand could be interpreted in the wrong way and constitute what George Orwell might call a “walkcrime".
“Where are you going?” asked a young military officer who caught up with me and slid his arm through mine. I explained that I had been trying to walk around a military checkpoint blocking my route home. “Come with me,” he said, smiling, as he guided me back toward the checkpoint.
Xenophobia in Egypt has significantly increased over the last year, as state media and government and military officials blame what they like to call “external hands” for recent clashes. As a result, foreigners have become increasingly suspect.
Tuesday was not the first time I was detained. In late September, I was taken into custody at the military museum in Cairo’s Citadel for taking pictures of a massive mural celebrating now-deposed President Hosni Mubarak. In the center of the mural, a giant flag had been placed in front of Mubarak.
“He is not our president anymore, but he is still our leader,” one of the museum guides, who later turned out to be a soldier, told me at the time. This was interesting, and in the process of pressing further, I apparently acted too much like a spy and found myself detained by the military for seven hours.
With street fighting between protesters and security forces becoming a regular feature of downtown Cairo, the catch-a-spy mentality has taken on fresh momentum.
Once through the checkpoint, I was surrounded by young soldiers who had no idea what to do with me. One took my phone and began shuffling through my pictures — I guessed he was interested in pictures of misspelled English signs around Cairo. To my luck, the soldiers who detained me won a brief tug-of-war with their comrade-in-arms and returned my phone.
I was then taken to see a senior officer, who called me “Wall Street” and wanted to know what I think about the Occupy Wall Street movement. I tried to explain to him that I left the United States before it began, but it didn’t seem to register. I am an American journalist, and therefore an activist, and therefore connected to the Occupy movement, and therefore — and I could see where this was going — connected to Egypt's revolutionary movement.
“What is your opinion of the revolution?” he asked.
I responded in my deficient Arabic. “I don't have one. I'm not Egyptian.”