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Court rejects request to ban 51 websites

(HRinfo/IFEX) - In a court ruling restoring hope in the hearts of all defenders of freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt and the world, the Administrative Judicial Court issued a decision on 29 December 2007 in Case No. 15575 / 61, in which Judge Abdul Fattah Murad sought a ban on 51 Egyptian websites. The court rejected the request, emphasising support for freedom of expression and the importance of not compromising the freedom of these websites as long as they do not undermine fundamental beliefs or public order.

This historic sentence comes as the best conclusion to a year that witnessed a sharp retreat in press freedom and freedom of expression in Egypt. Such a retreat left many defenders of freedom of expression on the verge of despair and frustration. Yet this ruling emphasises that there is always a glimmer of light and that the struggle of defenders of freedom of expression is not in vain.

On the other hand, this ruling in support of freedom of expression is a blow to the new "Hesba" men, who lie in wait everywhere targeting freedom of expression and press freedom, and to those who seek to impose a climate of fear and panic in the hearts of writers and Internet users while attempting to drag Egypt back into the dark ages of the Inquisition.

"Minor victories give us hope and the ability to continue, and this sentence restored our confidence that our efforts in support of freedom in Egypt are not lost in vain," said Ahmed Seif Al-Islam Hamad, a human rights activist and former director of Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC).

"It is truly a wonderful day. We are pleased with this sentence that restores things back to normal and restores consideration for human rights, press institutions and blogs that have been unjustly described as 'terrorist'," said Gamal Eid, executive director of HRinfo. "The right of citizens to a free Internet and a free flow of information is now guaranteed by the judiciary in Egypt."

In response to this ruling, the two organisations, HRinfo and HMLC, have decided to hold a celebration for all supporters of freedom of expression and press freedom press. The date and place will be determined at a later time, as a prelude to another round in the struggle against restrictions on information flow in Egypt.

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