November 20, 2006

Egypt arrests bloggers

This is not a good sign. Egypt is an ally of the U.S. and generally considered to be one of the "moderate" Arab states along with Jordan. It is important to remember, however, that unfortunately the benchmark for "moderate" has been set fairly low in the region. Egypt and Jordan still have significant problems with general human rights, women's rights, free speech, political opposition, and nasty anti-Semitism, just as the more extreme states do. A significant real difference between Egypt-Jordan and Iran-Syria, however, is the issue of state-sponsored terrorism. There are certainly extremist elements in the moderate Arab states, but they do not have nearly the same level of state support that they would get elsewhere.What good can come out of the arrests is that these bloggers have certainly raised their profile and can now do an even better job of trying to keep the ruling party in check.The Sandmonkey, my favorite Middle Eastern blogger and an Egyptian, generally provides great commentary on these sorts of matters.