Watch what you say about the fidelity of the women of Egypt. That's a lesson Taymour el-Sobky is learning the hard way. The blogger, who runs the Facebook page "The Diary of a Suffering Man," has been sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor by a court in Giza, CNN reports. According to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, el-Sobky said, "Thirty percent of women have a readiness for immorality ... but cannot find someone to encourage them," while appearing on a TV show in December. A flood of complaints followed the comments, and a public prosecutor charged el-Sobky for "spreading false news," the AP reports. El-Sobky, who says his comments were taken out of context, has apologized. An appeal is scheduled for March 30.
Rights lawyer Gamal Eid says el-Sobky's case highlights how public opinion, rather than the rule of law, controls the legal system in Egypt. Whatever one may think of el-Sobky's comments, "he did not commit a crime," Eid says, adding that the "government violates the law day and night, and implements it haphazardly." More often these days, the government is cracking down on artists, writers, and intellectuals, the AP notes. Ahmed Naji, for instance, received two years in prison for violating "public modesty" after an excerpt from his novel that contained a sex scene was published in a literary magazine. Also, a TV presenter is serving a year in prison for "defaming religious symbols," and another writer has appealed a three-year sentence for defaming Islam.