Thursday, 10 November 2011

Freedom from Fear

A blog post called: "Why do we care about Alaa more than Maikel,"  spurred me to write this entry as I've been following the case of Maikel Nabil Sanad often wondering why his case did not garner the same type of support locally that the international scene afforded him. This was even more evident when he was locked up in a mental institution and even then, I did not see a large outcry for his freedom.

To understand Maikel Nabil's case better I read some excerpts from his blog entries and as in the above post, I too concluded that reluctant support for him might be down to the fact that he had voiced opinions too controversial for some to accept (loosely in his pro Israel stance, his campaign against compulsory military conscription and finally his vociferous critique of the army). 

But while the crux of the problem probably lies in some people's inability to accept other views in the context of free expression, I would add another factor to the mix that might explain the sensitivity around Maikel Nabil's case. I would argue that fear is another factor.

The freedom to express one's opinions without fear of retribution by those in power, is not to be underestimated. It's a truth I have sometimes felt. Maikel Nabil was imprisonned for three years by a military court, sending out a strong signal that if a red line is crossed, the price might be one's freedom. It's a precarious situation that might explain why people are disengaged. 

If Maikel Nabil is not set free, it will set a dangerous precedent. For after that, who will guarantee that the next voice is not silenced and the next and the next? If a climate of fear is harboured as a result of it, where does that leave freedom?