Washington Post: Trial of Egyptian Activist Unfair
In an editorial on Wednesday, the Washington Post assailed Egyptian authorities for the trial of human rights activist Saad Eddine Ibrahim, describing it as “unfair.”
“An American citizen who has criticized an authoritarian government and peacefully advocated democratic reform with the support of such institutions as the European Union and the National Endowment for Democracy was sentenced to seven years at hard labor on Monday after a manifestly unfair trial,” it said.
Comparing Egypt to Cuba and China in terms of human right violations, the paper said the difference is that Egypt is a country that has grown accustomed to receiving some $2 billion in US military and economic aid every year. It called on the US government to reconsider that.
“This affront need not and should not go unanswered,” said the article, which praised the sociologist as an advocate of democracy.
“Saad Eddin Ibrahim is the kind of citizen who makes Americans proud. The 62-year-old founder of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Social Developmental Studies has, for more than a quarter-century, been a tireless advocate of democratic values in Egypt. He has promoted religious tolerance, documenting discrimination against Egypt's Coptic Christian minority. He has worked for freedom of speech, in part by producing his own limit-stretching documentaries and magazine articles. Most of all, he has been a passionate advocate of injecting real life into Egypt's sham parliamentary democracy.”
Egyptian authorities charged Ibrahim with defaming Egypt, and accepting $250,000 in funding for his institute from the European Union.
The paper went on to accuse Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of seeking revenge after the activist raised the issue of succession in his writings.
“It's hard to guess why [President] Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's authoritarian president, thought it was worth delivering this slap in the face to a superpower ally that has backed his government, and effectively kept him in power, for the past 20 years. Perhaps Mr. Mubarak felt compelled to act after Mr. Ibrahim published an article criticizing the trend toward dynastic succession in the Arab world and calling attention to the son, Gamal, whom Mr. Mubarak is grooming. Perhaps the Egyptian president figures that the new Bush administration needs his help in the turbulent Middle East enough, or is 'realistic' enough, not to mind whether he respects democratic values. Perhaps Egypt is convinced that jailing an American citizen for advocating religious tolerance and free elections should have no effect on the appropriation of another easy $2 billion in American taxpayer dollars. The administration and Congress should prove otherwise.” -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)