Monday, September 24, 2007
Bad News: Saad is back in the cross-hairs
Saad Edn Ibrahim is my relative (by marriage: he is my father's wife's daughter's husband. I think that makes him a step brother-in-law). His history is interesting, and poignant.
Anyway, new problems have arisen. (Saad was released from Egyptian prison four years ago. He was held on trumped up charges for 14 months)
The state-controlled media is after him, which is a bad sign. When the newspapers stumble, the thought police rumble. Saad may go back to jail if he returns to Egypt.
Far from the public eye a drama is playing out that will have the utmost consequences for the Bush administration's goal of promoting democracy in the Middle East. The region's most prominent dissident, Egyptian sociologist Saad Edin Ibrahim, suddenly finds himself in a kind of perambulatory exile, hopping from conference to conference--in nine countries in the last three months. The one place he dare not go is home to Egypt because well-placed officials have warned him not to put himself within President Hosni Mubarak's grasp.
What has Mr. Ibrahim done to enrage President Mubarak? He has loudly advocated democracy in public writings, interviews with Western reporters, and, most unforgivably, in a face-to-face meeting with President Bush. As a result, members of Mr. Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party filed nine formal requests with the state prosecutor's office this summer for indictments against Mr. Ibrahim, for "damaging the state's economic interests" and even "treason." The state-run press has conducted a smear campaign against him.
Most recently, Egypt's largest paper, Al Ahram, carried a front-page editorial signed by Osama Saraya, its editor in chief, that branded Mr. Ibrahim an "agent" of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and a "criminal." Still more ominously, the author averred that Mr. Ibrahim had "repeated his old crime itself by giving false information to a foreign reader" to obscure "the environment of freedom and reform that Egypt lives in."
Saad is an optimistic guy. One of his central positions is that Islamic countries can, and should, vote. This op-ed is particularly passionate on this point.
(Nod to RL)