On October 31, 2010 Palestinian blogger Waleed Hasayin was arrested by security forces in the West Bank on charges of expressing blasphemous opinions on his blog and several Facebook pages he created under a pseudonym. Reportedly, while in prison, “a new post appeared on Husseini’s blog page in which the author apologizes for the offense caused by his blog.”

Human rights NGOs, which often criticize Israel about detention issues, have remained silent on Hasayin. Amnesty International, Al Haq, PCHR, PCATI, B’Tselem, Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, and FIDH have yet to release statements or urgent appeals calling for Hasayin’s release.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is the sole NGO to have issued a press statement addressing Hasayin’s detension (“West Bank: Free Suspected Blogger,” December 5, 2010), albeit one month after his arrest. HRW deputy Middle East director Joe Stork condemned the arbitrary detention and called on foreign donors to ask the Palestinian Authority “why it is allocating resources to arbitrarily detain a man for peacefully expressing his views.”

In the Palestinian Authority, insulting religion is illegal, and Hasayin faces a life sentence if convicted. According to local reports, Hasayin has been tortured. He is not allowed to receive visitors or speak to a lawyer. Officials at the local intelligence headquarters told the New York Times that Hasayin “was being detained partly for his own protection.”

Further highlighting the silence of human rights NGOs are several online groups and petitions demanding Hasayin’s immediate release, and the Western and Palestinian media attention to the story: