>> 05 December 2010
Maikel Nabil is a 30-year-old peace activist from Egypt. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and for the Reporters Without Borders Netizen Prize. He received the First Freedom Award in 2011 from the International Federation of Liberal Youth, was chosen as Honorary Writer of 2012 by mideastyouth.com, and was named one of the best Egyptian bloggers by The Daily Beast in January 2013. He has given over one hundred speeches in Egypt, Israel, the United States, and Europe on topics related to the Middle East, democracy, peace, and human rights. He currently lives in the United States, where he serves as a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and as a Digital Media Fellow at Fission Strategy.
In 2009, Maikel founded “NoMilService” as the first -- and still the only -- grassroots peace organization in Egypt. In 2010, he became the first ever conscientious objector in Egypt after refusing to serve in the armed forces. NoMilService remains active in Egypt, and continues to promote peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.
Maikel was detained five times in Egypt for his political activities. In 2009, he was arrested while distributing pamphlets at Asyut University condemning the control exerted over academia by state secret services. In 2010, with his brother Mark, Maikel was detained while protesting in downtown Cairo against the brutality of Egyptian police. Later in 2010, after refusing to serve in the Egyptian army, he was arrested a third time. In 2011, while participating in the January 25 revolution, he was tortured and sexually assaulted. Finally in March 2011, he was tried in military court and sentenced to three years in prison for his writings critical of the army.
After 10 months (302 days) in prison, and a 130-day hunger strike, a huge international campaign to “Free Maikel” helped to secure his release on January 24, 2012. During his imprisonment, Maikel received support from the White House, the US State Department, the European Parliament, the German Parliament, and the Canadian parliament. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights considered his detention arbitrary, and demanded his immediate release. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience, and campaigned for his freedom.
After he left the country, Egyptian authorities charged him with blasphemy for his atheist writings. In December 2012, he became the first Egyptian opposition figure to visit Israel on a peace mission. Because of that visit, the Government of Egypt has charged him with treason.
Maikel began blogging in 2006 in Arabic and English. Some of his more than 300 articles have been translated into German, Hebrew, Dutch, Danish, Italian and other languages. He now has over 100,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, and over five million people have visited his blogs. He has authored and been featured in articles published in the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and The Daily Beast, and has appeared on CNN, BBC, Deutsche Welle, France 24 and Al Jazeera. Maikel speaks Arabic and English and some Spanish. Several documentaries have been produced about his activism, including Petr Lom’s Back to the Square (2012).