Writer and Peace Activist
Maikel Nabil is a 29-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 recently moved to the United States, where he continues his advocacy in these areas.
In 2009, Maikel founded “No to Compulsory Military Service Movement (NoMilService)” as the first -- and still the only -- peace organization in Egypt. In 2010, he became the first 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. 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 Israelon a peace mission. Because of that visit, the Government of Egypt has charged him with treason.
Maikel began blogging in2006 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 2 million people have visited his blog. He has authored and been featured in articles published in the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, 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 has studied Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Latin, Coptic, Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek. Several documentaries have been produced about his activism, including Petr Lom’s Back to the Square (2012).
Peacebuilding and Democracy in a Turbulent World
Egypt's Transition: Military Rule, Human Rights Challenges, and U.S. Policy Choices
4th Geneva Summit: Maikel Nabil, Egypt
How Egypt's Conscription Generates Unemployment and Refugees. 9/15/14. The Huffington Post.
They Burned the Churches and With Them, My Childhood. 8/15/13. The Huffington Post.
Making Peace by Going to Israel. 12/10/12. Times of Israel.
Yes, I’m a Blasphemer. Get Over It. 10/19/12. Foreign Policy.
The Message From Egypt's Generals. 3/19/12. Wall Street Journal
“He, like Sharansky would rather die than compromise his freedom.”
“Nabil, like Sharansky, like Saad Eddin Ibrahim -- like all the other political prisoners I've represented -- possesses that intangible moral courage and commitment to a cause that is unyielding. His Egyptian supporters shout out with their cry "We are all Maikel Nabil"-- and that should be our battle cry here as well.”
Irwin Cotler, Canadian Member of Parliament and the Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
* * *
“While he’s not actually on the ground in Egypt anymore, Maikel Nabil remains an influential—and highly controversial—figure in Egypt.”
Rachel Krantz, the Daily Beast
* * *
“Sanad's freedom is a litmus test for Egypt's future. So far it is failing miserably.”
David Keyes, Executive Director of Advancing Human Rights
* * *
“If the Arab Spring had fulfilled its promise, Maikel Nabil Sanad would be part of a lively political culture in a rapidly modernizing Egypt”
“A realistic U.S. strategy would start with the right long-term goal, which is putting the rest of the Middle East on the path that Tunisia is following toward building liberal institutions. It would then invest in the Arabs and Iranians who share that goal, of whom there are millions, and defend them from the despots who are tossing them in prison, dropping barrel bombs on their homes and forcing them into exile. It’s not a policy that would pay off in the short run. But it would recognize that the best Mideast future lies with young people like Maikel Nabil Sanad.”
Jackson Diehl, Fulfilling the Arab Spring