Egyptian court rejects blogger appeal

Cairo, Egypt - An Egyptian appeals court on Monday confirmed a four-year jail sentence against a blogger convicted of insulting religion and defaming the president, his lawyer said.

The court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria rejected the appeal by 22-year-old Abdel Karim Suleiman who was sentenced last month, lawyer Gamal Eid told AFP.

"The verdict was not handed down on the basis of the law," said Eid, who is also the head of Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. "It is a religious verdict similar to those of the inquisition."

Suleiman, who blogs under the name Karim Amer, was sentenced to three years in prison for insulting religion with his writings and a year for defaming President Hosni Mubarak after posting an entry on his blog lashing out at Cairo's Al-Azhar University - the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam.

"I say to Al-Azhar and its university and its professors and preachers who stand against anyone who thinks differently to them: 'You are destined for the rubbish bin of history, where you will find no one to cry for you, and your regime will end like others have," he wrote.

The verdict was condemned by rights groups all over the world as an attempt to intimidate Egypt's burgeoning blogging scene.

Egypt has thousands of bloggers, although only a few discuss political issues, and lately they have been shedding light on alleged torture by security services.