Don’t give advice on Facebook how to enter Egypt’s armed services, unless you want to spend six months in jail and pay a fine.
That’s the sentence 30-year-old Ahmed Hassan Bassyouni got from an Egyptian military court, the man’s lawyer, Gamal Eid, told AFP.
Bassyouni — whose name has a different spelling from one media outlet to the next — didn’t even say anything negative about the military. He simply gave advice on how to enlist and prepare the requisite documents.
Like his attorney told AFP:
This is a message that publishing anything about the armed forces, whether good or bad, won’t be allowed. They accused him of spreading military secrets over the Internet without permission.
Perhaps Egypt’s military has security concerns in mind when reacting to online posts by residents of the country.
In March, an Egyptian military court tried student blogger Ahmed Abdel Fattah Mustafa for criticizing the country’s armed forces. The case adjourned and has yet to resume, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Another Egyptian blogger, Kareem Amer, just finished a four-year term in jail, on charges of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak.
Arrested while still a student, 26-year-old Amer was Egypt’s first blogger to face trial for online postings, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information told Reuters.
Egyptian law gets pretty strict about anything that might bear a resemblance to terrorism, and the nation’s legal system seems to regard online communications as a frontier.
What can Egyptian users of Facebook do to keep their postings from causing further legal problems with local officials? Should the social network take more steps to help ensure that members in conservative nations encounter less conflict related to posts and profiles?