Egyptian blogger makes Israel peace mission
Activist imprisoned in Egypt
An Egyptian activist blogger who endured 10 months of imprisonment and abuse by the country's military is taking his message of peace to Israel and the West Bank this weekend in an effort to spur peace in the region.
"After years of calling for peace, I have realized that practicing peace is more important than talking," Maikel Nabil, 27, wrote of his trip. "My visit is a message from the Egyptian peace community that we have had enough violence and confrontation and we want this to end. We want to live together as human beings without violence, racism or walls."
Nabil was arrested in March 2011, two months after pro-democracy protests erupted in Egypt and weeks after a military regime took over the country.
After writing about alleged army violence against protesters during the uprising, Nabil was arrested and charged with insulting the military and spreading false information.
He was the first prisoner of conscience in post-revolutionary Egypt. His imprisonment sparked an outcry from prominent rights groups such as Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders.
The military junta pardoned him in January along with nearly 2,000 other prisoners as a way to appease protesters. Nabil later described being kept in solitary confinement, witnessing the torture of many prisoners, being drugged and going on a hunger strike.
The trip to Israel and the West Bank -- his first -- is being organized by the Geneva-based advocacy group U.N. Watch. The group's executive director, Hillel Neuer, called Nabil a role model and "a true hero who inspires hope around the world." U.N. Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee.
Nabil is scheduled to speak at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, The World Union of Jewish Students and Tel Aviv University. He also has plans to visit Ramallah in the West Bank.
"I'm aiming with my visit to end the monopoly which governments have over peace processes," Nabil wrote on his blog. "Our governments held this portfolio for decades, and obviously they have gone from one failure to the next. It's time to open the process to other actors. If we couldn't achieve anything, at least the competition will pressure politicians to work harder."
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