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Monday, December 24, 2012

Protesters Disrupt Egyptian Blogger\'s Speech in Israel

Palestinian students disrupted a dissident Egyptian blogger's address at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Sunday.

As The Lede reported on Friday, the blogger, Maikel Nabil, is a controversial figure in Egypt. A member of the country's Coptic Christian community who describes himself as an atheist and an admirer of Israeli democracy, he was jailed for eight months after the 2011 revolution for denouncing in a blog post the military council that took power from former President Hosni Mubarak. His visit to Israel was sponsored by a Zionist organization, U.N. Watch, which is critical of the United Nations.

As the Gazan blogger Rana Baker reported on Twitter, video posted online showed Palestinian students in the front row of the hall rising to their feet during the speech, shouting: “Shame on you! The Egyptian revolution hates you!”

Footage of the disruption shot from the front of the hall caught a sharp exchange between a protester and another member of the audience. As several female students voiced their objections to Mr. Nabil using his association with the Egyptian uprising to promote acceptance of Israel, a man in the back of the hall shouted, “This is not Egypt - sit down!” To which one woman replied, “This is Palestine, and we have the right to say whatever we want.”

The university, which presented Mr. Nabil as “the hero of Tahrir Square,” posted video of his complete speech online.

Areej Mawasi, a Palestinian student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reported on the disruption as it took place on her @rejism90 Twitter feed.

Yara Saadi, a member of a Palestinian feminist student group at the university, told the Egyptian ne wspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm ahead of the event that she and other students planned to disrupt the speech because they oppose the acceptance or “normalization” of Israel.

“We consider Nabil a part of the normalization and bargaining that supports the theft and colonization of land, supports the suppression and displacement of the Palestinian people and ignores their rights,” Ms. Saadi said. “His shameful opinions do not convince anyone who has basic information about the Arab-Zionist struggle.”

As The Lede explained last year, many of the Egyptian activist bloggers who supported Mr. Nabil's right to freedom of expression on his blog, and demonstrated against his imprisonment, were strongly critical of his pro-Israel stance. One Cairene activist, Lobna Darwish, denounced Mr. Nabil's visit to Israel as “pathetic,” in a comment posted on Twitter.