Where It’s a Crime to Blog

In Western countries bloggers merrily write and self-publish knowing that they are safe to so do unless they incite to violence. Not only do they espouse their own political views on a regular basis, they by and large welcome the cut and thrust of debate with those who hold differing views.

Not so in Islamist societies.

Here are just a handful of stories of those imprisoned or worse because freedom of expression is unacceptable and even forbidden in their respective societies:

Merzoug Touati. This young blogger was arrested in Algeria on January 22, according to Salah Debouz, president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights. “I presume that is related to his writings. For now I have no more details,” said Debouz. Touati, who runs alhogra.com was scheduled to stand trial on January 25. The list of Algerian prisoners of conscience reportedly continues to grow.

Raif Badawi. Arguably the best known of the imprisoned bloggers, Badawi received 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes from a Saudi court. Badawi's "crime" was moderating an internet forum that encouraged participants to voice their opinion about religion in the kingdom. He founded the online forum “Free Saudi Liberals” in 2008 which encouraged open debate about issues that are normally considered taboo in the heavily-regulated Wahhabi kingdom.

Ahmed Douma. Ahmed Maher. Mohammed Adel. These gentlemen were among Egypt’s leading bloggers until they were sentenced to three years with hard labor in 2014. Between them they had four million followers on Twitter. Maher was released from jail in January 2017. They were arguably the lucky ones, when compared to Khaled Said. He was known in the early days of the Arab Spring by his penname Sandmonkey until he was tortured and murdered by two Egyptian police officers.

Salman Haider. Waqas Goraya. Asim Saeed. Others unnamed. Four prominent Pakistani activists were confirmed vanished in January 2017, according to NGOs and other activists. Social media reports however suggest that as many as nine have disappeared. All four activists are vocally secular and anti-extremists on social media and have been strongly critical of the Pakistani government’s policies towards human rights. Join the petition for their recovery.

Ananta Bijoy Das. This Bangladeshi humanist blogger was hacked to death in broad daylight by a masked gang wielding machete. His was the third such killing of a blogger in Bangladesh in 2015. Das was a blogger for the liberal website Mukto-Mona. In 2006, he won the site’s Rationalist Award for “deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages.”

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