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Egypt: Govt Convicts Democracy Activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Egypt: Govt Convicts Democracy Activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim
The Bush administration, expressing disappointment over the August 2 conviction of Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, said the action is "harming Egypt’s reputation" and urged global protection for the rights to free speech and due process.
Thursday, August 7,2008 03:32
by Stephen Kaufman Allafrica.com

The Bush administration, expressing disappointment over the August 2 conviction of Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, said the action is "harming Egypt"s reputation" and urged global protection for the rights to free speech and due process.

 

In an August 4 statement, the State Department"s acting deputy spokesman, Gonzalo Gallegos, said Ibrahim was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison because of his writings published in the foreign press.

 

"Lawsuits should not be used to undermine the principles of freedom of expression," Gallegos said. "We strongly advocate -- in all countries -- the protection of civil and political rights, including freedom of speech and due process."

 

Ibrahim, who is 69, has both Egyptian and American citizenship, according to press reports. He has been a professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo and founded both the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies and the Arab Organization for Human Rights.

 

Ibrahim"s August 2 conviction reportedly concerns articles and speeches he made urging the United States to link its bilateral aid to Egypt to democratic reforms in the country.

 

In 2002, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for "tarnishing Egypt"s image," embezzlement and receiving foreign funds without authorization after the Khaldoun Center used funds from the European Union to monitor Egyptian elections. After 10 months in prison, Ibrahim was released and cleared of charges. He currently is living in the United States and has remained active in promoting democracy in the Middle East. (See "Saad Eddin Ibrahim Urges Democracy for Muslim World.")

 

Ibrahim has insisted that true Islam is fully compatible with democracy. At a 2003 conference sponsored by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, he said the prophet Mohammed signed the Charter of Medina, containing "all the aspects of pluralism, which is the prerequisite of democracy," some 500 to 600 years before the Magna Carta was written. That charter, entered into with 14 non-Muslim groups living in Medina, established the principle of "equality in worldly matters," Ibrahim said.

 


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