Egypt : Appeals against shut down of 49 web sites

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An Egyptian judge is appealing a lower court’s ruling that upheld the freedom of expression on the Internet.

In the appeal, which begins 17 March, judge Abdul Fattah Murad, is continuing his demand that 49 web sites in the country be shut down.

An administrative court turned down Murad’s original claims on 29 December, which was hailed by rights groups as a victory for the freedom of the internet and expression in Egypt.

In the first law suit in March 2007, Murad called for 21 human rights organisations, newspapers and blog web sites to be banned before increasing the number to 49, alleging that these sites are “terrorists” and “tarnish the reputation of Egypt and the Arab governments.”

“The administrative court delivered a judgment in favour of freedom of expression and refused to ban any of the web sites,” the Arabic Network for Human Right s Information (HRinfo), based here, said in a statement.

“However, the judge appealed against the judgment to start a new round between supporters of freedom of expression and the judge, who might have thought the d e lay of the public prosecution to take off his judicial immunity, is in support o f his position in the assault on copyrights of the Arabic Network and in support of his fabrication of law-suits against bloggers and human rights activists.”

HRinfo is among the web sites listed by Murad to be shut down.

The organisation said the attempt to limit freedom of expression revealed the government was trying to maintain its control over intellectual property.

“We hope the appeal is dismissed, but it still shows us the government does no t have an eye toward freedom and openness. This will need to change if Egypt is going to lead the Arab world on the path to justice,” Gamal Eid, director of HRinfo, told panapress.

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