An Egyptian court has sentenced blogger Abdel Kareem Soliman to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president. The trial, which took place in Soliman's native city of Alexandria, is the first time a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt, although many have been arrested in the past. Under the name of Kareem Amer, the 22-year-old used his web log to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak. A former student at al-Azhar, he called the institution "the university of terrorism" and accused it of suppressing free thought – this resulted in a 2006 expulsion and having the university press prosecutors to put him on trial. During the five-minute court session the judge said Soliman was guilty and would serve three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition, and one year for calling Mr Mubarak a dictator. Hafiz Abou Saada of the Egyptian Human Rights Organisation called the sentence "a strong message to all bloggers who are put under strong surveillance". Fellow blogger Amr Gharbeia told the BBC it would not stop Egyptian bloggers from expressing opinions as "it is very difficult to control the blogosphere".
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