20 July 2012 Kareem’s Krakow refuge

He spent a total of four years in prison, including two years in a higher security prison, in a solitary cell, without visits – Andrzej Muszyńki tells the story of Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer in today’s issue of Dziennik Polski. Kareem has been living in Krakow for several months now. He came on a scholarship carried out by the Villa Decius Association as part of the cooperation between the city of Krakow and the ICORN international cities of refuge network. He was the first Egyptian blogger to go to prison for his blog entries. He was sentenced to a total of four years in prison for insulting Islam and disseminating false information about President Mubarak.

Founded in 2005, ICORN incorporates more than 35 cities, since recently also including Krakow.

“We are the first city in Poland, and so far, the only representative of Central and Eastern Europe in the network,” explains Danuta Glondys, director of Villa Decius, where Kareem is staying. “Efforts to be included in the network lasted two years. The agreement had to be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Krakow was included among the cities sensitive to human rights, finally not in the historical dimension – with reference to the tradition of tolerance in Poland, but the here and now. But we would not have been able to achieve this if it wasn’t for the involvement of Magdalena Sroka, Deputy Mayor of the City of Krakow in charge of Culture and the Promotion of the City, and Robert Piaskowski, Programme Director of the Krakow Festival Office. It was Magdalena Sroka who fought for bringing Kareem to Krakow,” says Danuta Glondys.

Today, Kareem enjoys freedom thanks to ICORN. He will stay in Krakow until the end of the year. Later, ICORN will find him a home in another European ICORN city.