Friday, 31 October 2008

Free Kareem rally in London on Thursday, 6 November

This coming Thursday, 6 November 2008 marks the completion of Kareem Amer's second year in prison. Kareem is a 24-year-old Egyptian student imprisoned for a total of four years for the simple act of expressing his opinions on his blog. His alleged "crimes" were: "defaming Egypt's President, incitement to hate Islam, and highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt." While in prison, Kareem has been confined to his cell, denied access to visitors, had his books confiscated, and suffered beatings at the hands of other inmates and prison guards.

Protests against Kareem's continued imprisonment will be held in several cities around the world. There are currently eight cities confirmed and four others being considered (updates will be posted to the Free Kareem blog). Anyone who cares about freedom of speech and religion should try and attend one of the protests if they can.

The London protest will begin at 14:00 outside the Egyptian Embassy at 26 South Street, W1K 1DW. At 14:40, we will make the 20-minute walk down to the Egyptian Consulate at 2 Lowndes Street, SW1X 9ET. This is where people come to collect their visas, so hopefully by protesting there we will draw wider attention to Kareem's cause. Visa collections end at 16:00, after which we will head back to the Embassy to continue our demonstration and submit a petition for Kareem's immediate release. Depending on numbers and interest, we may go for drinks or a meal afterwards.

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It would be great to see as many people at the rally as possible. There's no pressure to stay for the whole protest - even if you can only make it for half an hour, your support will be very much appreciated. If you can't get to London on Thursday, but would still like to take part, please send me your name, affiliations and any messages of support and I'll add them to the petition. If you are planning to attend, please join the Facebook event (and invite all your friends!). If you want to contact me on the day (for example if you're planning to join halfway through and want to know where we are), email me and I'll send you my mobile number. My email address is andrew [dot] gimber [at] balliol [dot] ac [dot] uk.

A group of us will be taking the Oxford Tube or espress down to London. A student day/next day return ticket costs £13, but you won't need to pay for travel in London because the Marble Arch bus stop is very near the Egyptian Embassy. We'll be meeting at 12:00 noon at the Queen's Lane bus stop in Oxford. If you're in Oxford and you'd like to join us, email me so we know to wait for you.

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