I have a question for the Egyptian Government and especially for President Mubarak. Does Egypt really need to have a man like Saad Eddin Ibrahim behind bars? This whole trial had the appearance of a ‘personal vendetta’. Why was this incredible waste of public funds orchestrated against a man who is vocal, but otherwise harmless? Who are these judges who would silence an honest intellectual? Do the authorities in Egypt really think that the clock can be turned back or that an economically robust Egypt can develop in a climate that stifles dissent. Egyptians and Arabs need to agree to disagree without resorting to slandering those they disagree with. Is Saad Eddin Ibrahim any less of a patriot than those who have tried and are now imprisoning him?
When exactly is Egypt scheduled to emerge from the eternal dark nights of arbitrary justice delivered by the Supreme Security Court? Is Egypt so insecure that it fears the words of one man? Should Egypt even have laws to accuse a man like Saad Eddin Ibrahim of ‘defaming’ Egypt? Can Egypt be so easily defamed? I have yet to meet a single Egyptian who feels offended by Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Even those who don’t agree with his political tactics, find him to be harmless and well within his rights, as an Egyptian and as a man, to speak truth to power. So who exactly was offended by Saad? Some limousine bureaucrat?
Now, if anyone has been defamed in this trial, it is Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a man of honor who has spent his adult life trying to improve the quality of Egyptian political life and to promote brotherly relationships between Copts and Muslims. Every Copt in Egypt must know that they have legions of brothers in the Muslim community who will struggle to protect their rights to worship freely and openly, to maintain their ancient traditions and to participate as full citizens in the life of Egypt. That is a great legacy that has endured foreign invasions, provided social harmony and insured national unity.
Let Saad Eddin Ibrahim go about his business of promoting human and civil rights in Egypt. I have been told that unlike his predecessor, President Mubarak is not a vindictive man and that he prides himself on being pragmatic. Many pundits believe that he is popular enough to win a fair election. Egypt should stop acting like a banana republic; it is built on some very sound and adequate institutions that allow for a level of political participation that falls short of democracy in the Western tradition. But, it is a country that, for all its faults, has matured politically from a monarchy to a one party state to a restricted multi-party state with a vigorous and competitive media industry. To progress to the next stage, a country needs men who are willing to push the envelope. Men like Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Egypt has its full quota of ‘Yes Men’; Any healthy political and social order knows that it is the “No Men” who can challenge a country to improve and point it in the right path. President Mubarak should do the right thing and pardon Mr. Ibrahim. Than he should fire the zealous prosecutor. The Egyptian government should also immediately dissolve the Security Courts and abandon the emergency laws. It is time to move on to a higher state of political life in Egypt. A first step in the right direction is to recognize that Saad Eddin Ibrahim does not deserve seven days in jail, much less seven years.
Once Ibrahim is released, he will certainly come out in defense of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners currently held in Israel. Perhaps, with his release, the Egyptian government can ask the Bush administration to stop pandering to the Israeli lobby and start showing real concern for those who daily suffer the under the most repressive political regime in the Middle East, the Israeli military thugs who rule over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).