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memri
October 15, 2002 No.
429

Liberal Arab Intellectuals Call on President Mubarak to Free Dr. Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrahim

A group of liberal intellectuals from throughout the Arab world published a communiqué in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The communiqué urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to free sociologist and human rights activist Dr. Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrahim, now jailed in Egypt after a second trial. Among the signatories were editors of London-based Arabic newspapers (besides Al-Quds Al-Arabi), members of the 'liberal bloc' from Al-Jazeera television, Egyptian journalists and intellectuals living in Egypt, former Lebanese prime minister Salim Al-Huss, former Moroccan minister of information Muhammad Al-Arabi Al-Massari, and Arab reformists from throughout the world. The following is a translation of the communiqué as well as the Egyptian opposition's reaction to it along with an appendix listing the signatories: [1]

The Communiqué

"The signatories to this communiqué, who belong to various schools of thought and political ideologies in the Arab world, express their profound shock at the seven-year prison sentence imposed by the Supreme Court for State Security in Cairo on the renowned thinker and socio-political scientist Dr. Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrahim."

"The shock is exacerbated because the [signatories] were hoping that the retrial, held following the cancellation of the first trial, would pave the way to a complete exoneration of Dr. Ibrahim, who is one of the representatives of Egypt and the Arab world, a national political thinker, who enjoys unique international fame, and who has devoted his time, energy, and research to work openly in support of the democratic process, human rights, and the advancement of a 'civilian society' in his country."

"It should be mentioned that among his prominent efforts – in cooperation with other famous Arab intellectuals – is the establishment of The Center for the Study of Arab Unity in Beirut, The Arab Think-Tank Club in Amman, The Arab Organization for Human Rights, of which he was the first secretary-general, and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, which he also headed."

"We recall that among his efforts to advance democracy, he initiated the establishment of a civilian committee, which included a group of Egyptian intellectuals, to oversee the parliamentary elections in 1995. In its final report it mentioned a few infractions, which the government tried to remedy in the 2000 elections."

"Concerned about Egypt's reputation in the world, whereas following the sentence it was subjected to harsh criticism and a wave of condemnations and objections from the international media, human rights organizations, international governments and local authorities, and concerned about the future of the 'civilian society' in Egypt, whose members were profoundly shaken, and whose activities were curtailed after having seen what befell a respected personality such as Dr. Ibrahim; [and in an effort to protect] the vital role of the 'civilian society' in light of the fundamentalist efforts to push Egypt back into the darkness; and in an attempt to preserve Egypt's efforts to widen the scope of [civil] freedom, which we have begun to enjoy in the form of freedom of writing and publishing; and in an [effort] to save the life of the 63 year-old Dr. Ibrahim, whose declining health and life are endangered by the physical and psychological conditions in prison."

"Considering all the above, the signatories appeal to the honorable President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, who undoubtedly shares concern and interest in the above issues, to use the constitutional and legal authorities vested in him, and to order the immediate release of Dr. Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrahim and his colleagues, to cancel the accusations against them, and to reopen the Ibn Khaldoun Research Center."

The Egyptian Opposition Responds

The Egyptian opposition weekly Al-Usbu',which for a considerable period of time spearheaded Egyptian media attacks against Dr. Ibrahim, responded to the communiqué with an article headlined: "The intellectual 100, friends of Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrahim, go back to your holes… and may Allah have mercy on you!!" [The magazine reported:]

"In a perplexing initiative, 100 self-proclaimed intellectual Arabs signed a petition for the President of Egypt, in which they asked him to release Dr. Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrhim… We would have expected them to use their pens to defend the colleagues of [Muhammad] Al-Durah and Sarah 'Aroussi, the martyrs of the Intifada. But it seems that defending the crime of Sa'd Al-Deen Ibrahim is more important to them than defending Iraq and Palestine."

"We were envisioning a petition with their signatures demanding from the murderers Bush and Sharon the release [of] the freedom fighter Marwan Al-Bargouthi, who is treated like a dog in the Zionist death camps. We envisioned [that] the Egyptians residing in London, Paris, and Beverly Hills [would] stop hurting their homeland by talking about a civilian society and human rights in Egypt, while they are the last to know what is really happening in Egypt. We were hoping that the signatories [would] give free reign to their conscience and [would] not ask President Mubarak to interfere with a decision taken by the judicial system… they intentionally forget that interfering with a legal verdict is the epitome of regression into the age of darkness. However, it seems that aiming poisonous arrows at each other has become the best way to take shelter in the holes and fall down at the feet of westerners…" [2]

Appendix: The Signatories of the Communiqué

"The signatories: Adonis, Arab poet (France). Lafif Lakhdar, Tunisian writer (France). Dr. Ibrahim 'Uweis (USA), professor and chairman of 'International Justice' organization. Ibrahim Al-Tawuti, Lawyer (France). Ibrahim Khayat, journalist-writer in Al-Hayat (Britain). Ibrahim Jawad, chairman of the organization for 'The Protection of Free Press' (Britain). Elias Khouri, writer (Lebanon). Dr. Ibrahim Khalil, physician (Britain). Dr. Ibrahim Habib, Egyptian physician (Britain). Claudius Ibrahim, journalist (Britain). Dr. Adib Makar, professor (USA). Ahmad Al-Mana'i, chairman of the Tunisian International Relations Center (Tunisia). Alfonse Kilada, businessman (USA). Elaine Tadrous, writer and member of the Arab Writers Association (Australia). Dr. Amira Johara, Dean of the School of Medicine, Toledo, Ohio (USA). Dr. Assil Bassili, professor (Canada). Iyad Abu Sahqra, journalist- Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily – (Britain). Bassil Salhouv, activist in the 'Arab Committee for Human Rights' (France). Butrus Andari, Lebanese journalist (Australia). Tawfiq Bin-Brik, poet and writer (Tunisia). Dr. Jamal Abd Al-Jawad, researcher in Al-Ahram Center for Political Research (Egypt). Dr. Jack Ahmarnian, writer (USA). Jack Al-Jarrah, artist (France). Jihad Al-Khazen, Lebanese journalist and former editor of Al-Hayat daily (Britain). George Sam'an, editor in chief of Al-Hayat daily (Britain). Dr. Georgette Suleiman, professor (Australia). Dr. Salem Halim Barakat, professor (USA). Hazem Saghia, journalist with Al-Hayat daily (Britain). Khalid Haroub, researcher from Cambridge University and reporter with Al-Jazeera television (Britain). Hassan Sati, Sudanese journalist (Britain). Dr. Hilmi Jurjus, physician (Britain). Hatim Al-Qasasba, journalist (USA). Dr. Raif Marx, professor (USA). Dr. Rushdi Sa'id, Egyptian professor (USA). Dr. Rudolf Yeni, physician and editor in chief of Al-Rissala (USA). Ziyad Amru, writer (USA). Dr. Zina Al-Arabi, researcher (UAE). Salim Al-Huss, former Lebanese PM (Lebanon). Sameh Yusef, doctoral candidate (USA). Sami Haddad, reporter in Al-Jazeera television (Britain). Sa'd Al-Bazzaz, editor in chief of the daily Al-Zaman (Britain). Sa'd Jabbar, Moroccan lawyer (Britain). Dr. Sa'd Mikhail Sa'd, engineer (USA). Sartyal Khalil, businessman (USA). Dr. Sa'id Al-Shihabi, Baharaini journalist (Britain). Dr. Sa'id Al-Najjar, professor and chairman of the 'New Voice' organization (Egypt). Dr. Salim Najib, former judge and lawyer with an international license (Canada). Dr. Samir Fahmi Babawi, professor (USA). Samir Qassir, journalist and researcher (Lebanon). Dr. Sadiq Jalal Al-Assiss, professor (Syria). Dr. Sabri Fawzi Johara, physician and professor (USA). Sabri Fouad, Egyptian journalist (Australia). 'Adel Darwish, Egyptian journalist (Britain). 'Adel Jundi, engineer and consultant, co-coordinator of the '100 Document' (France). 'Adel Malik, journalist and former broadcaster (Britain). 'Adel Beidhoun, writer (Lebanon). Abed Al-Hassan Al-Amir, Lebanese journalist and former editor of Al-Nour (Britain). Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Britain). Abd Al-Rahim Saber, Moroccan researcher (USA). Abed Al-Wahhab Al-Hani, Tunisian researcher (France). Abd Al-Wahab Badr-khan, vice-editor of Al-Hayat daily (Britain). Uthman Al-'Amir, editor of the electronic journal Eilaf (Britain). Ali Salem, play-writer (Egypt). Issam Shouri, engineer (Canada). Issam Abdallah, head of the political desk in Al-Majala journal (Britain). Imad Yusef, pharmacist (Canada). Dr. Violet Daghir, Lebanese writer and researcher (France). Fouad Farah, chemist (USA). Sabri Max, Egyptian journalist (Australia). Muhammad Al-Arabi Al-Massari, former Moroccan minister of information. Muhammad Nouh, artist (Egypt). Majdi Khalil, writer, researcher and coordinator of the '100 Document' (USA). Dr. Majdi Sami Zaki, professor at the University of Paris (France). Muhammad al-Badri, writer (Egypt). Muhammad Sa'id, Egyptian broadcaster in the Abu Dhabi satellite channel (UAE). Dr. Muhammad Al-Sayyid Al-Sa'id, chief of the Washington bureau of Al-Ahram (USA). Dr. Muhammad Al-Sa'dani, professor (USA). Muhammad Al-Sharati, painter (USA). Muhammad Tawfiq Zakaria, economic commentator (USA). Muhammad Krishan, Tunisian broadcaster in Al-Jazeera television (Qatar). Dr. Mamdouh Al-Qams, engineer (USA). Maher Uthman, journalist with Al-Hayat daily (Britain). Dr. M. Safr, writer and researcher from a Tunisian origin (France). Dr. Munsif Al-Marzouqi, writer and professor (Tunisia). Michael Abd Al-Massih, lawyer from a Palestinian origin who appears in the British Supreme Court (Britain). Michael Nasser Jayid, doctoral candidate (Canada). Nasser Al-Ghazaly, editor of Muqarbat journal (Sweden). Dr. Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, professor (Netherlands). Dr. Najib Al-Jablawi, engineer (USA). Nabi Abd Al-Malik, chairman of the Egyptian-Canadian organization for human rights (Canada). Dr. Hisham Sharabi, professor (USA). Dr. Na'im Al-Shirbini, economist (USA). Nabil Mikhail, professor (USA). Dr. Hani Awadallah, professor and chairman of the Arab-American organization for human rights (USA). Haytham Managh, Syrian writer and researcher (France). Dr. Walis Al-Miri, journalist (USA). Dr. William Hanna, engineer and director of research at Boeing (USA). Yusef Ibrahim, head of the Middle East desk at the American Council of Foreign Affairs (USA)."


[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), September 30, 2002.

[2] Al-Usbu' (Egypt), October 7, 2002.