October 5, 2023 Special Announcements No. 1395

Remembering Egyptian Sociologist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim – Reports And Clips From The MEMRI Reform Project

October 5, 2023
Egypt | Special Announcements No. 1395

Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian professor of sociology known for his criticism of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak regime and for his advocacy for democratic reform in Egypt, has passed away at 85.[1] Ibrahim was the founder of The Arab Organization for Human Rights and The Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, a leading institution for the study of human rights, civil society, and minority rights.[2]

In the early 2000s, Ibrahim was charged with, and later cleared of, defaming Egypt's image and accepting foreign funding without authorization. He lived in the U.S. in self-imposed exile for several years before returning to Egypt in 2011. However, even after this, he spent much of his time in the U.S., Britain, Turkey and Qatar.

Ibrahim was known to maintain good relations with the Qatari royal family, and especially with Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of the current Emir.[3] During the 2010s, he promoted the cause of reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar. While he was very critical of the Muslim Brotherhood, he also condemned the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for its exclusion and brutal persecution of this movement. In 2016 and 2018, he called for political reconciliation between the regime and the Brotherhood, as well as other political forces, even secretly meeting with fugitive Brotherhood leaders in Turkey.

A complicated man of many contradictions, he was criticized in Egypt for being "very close to the U.S. government," as when he arranged meetings between Islamists and American officials at the Swiss Club in Cairo in 2013 and opened a communications channel between the Salafist Nour Party and the Americans.[4] But he was also criticized by hardliners for visiting Israel and participating in a seminar at Tel Aviv University in 2018 that was boycotted by Arab students.

On the war in Iraq also, he found himself on both sides of controversy, as he praised Iraqi jihadists' and Ba'athists' killing of Americans in 2007, comparing them favorably to the "anti-colonial" Viet Cong and Algerian FLN, while later, in 2008, complaining that the same groups had killed ten times more Iraqis than American soldiers.

A vocal proponent of Western style rights and democracy, Ibrahim was also criticized for signing a statement supporting the presidential candidacy of President Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, in 2010. After the overthrow of the elder Mubarak, he sought to distance himself from that past. Ibrahim had personal ties with the Mubarak family, having reportedly supervised the master's thesis of First Lady Suzanne Mubarak at the American University in Cairo. Ironically, Ibrahim had coined the Arab neologism "Jamlukia" (combining the Arabic words for Republic and Monarchy) in a celebrated article, referring to Arab republics that function like monarchies in which the son inherits his father's presidency.

Source: New Arab

The following reports and clips about Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim are part of the MEMRI Reform Project, which broadens the audience of those promoting reform in the Arab and Muslim world while highlighting the obstacles that they face in advancing such reforms. The goal of this project is to provide reformists with a much-needed platform that will enable them to reach out to their societies and to religious, political, and educational leaders, while also providing cogent suggestions to Western policy makers constructing long-term strategic plans in support of the reform effort.

For more from the MEMRI Reform Project, click here.

Egyptian Intellectuals Clash Over Qatar-Egypt Reconciliation – December 23, 2014

To view the clip, click here or below:

Egyptian Sociologist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim: Government Is Behind Death Sentences For Muslim Brotherhood Members – May 7, 2014

To view the clip, click here or below:

Leading Egyptian Human Rights Activists Give Police Clean Bill of Health Regarding Dispersal Of Sit-Ins – August 23, 2013

To view the clip, click here or below:

Egyptian Sociologist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim: The Muslim Brotherhood Is Hijacking The Revolution, More Dangerous Than The Salafis – July 31, 2012

To view the clip, click here or below:

Egyptian Sociologist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim: The Egyptian Revolution Might Give Rise To A New Napoleon – July 10, 2011

To view the clip, click here or below:

Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim: The Muslims Should Learn Openness From The Catholic Church In France – January 28, 2009

On October 9, 2008, Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist Sa'ad Al-Din Ibrahim, who is also on the board of the Arab Democracy Foundation in Qatar, posted an article on the liberal website in which he appealed to Muslims worldwide to learn openness from the Catholic Church in France. He said that Muslims should emulate France's attitude towards its Muslims in their own treatment of minorities in Muslim countries.

Ibrahim's article came in response to the French Catholic Church's decision to allow Muslim girls to wear hijab in French Catholic schools, after the public schools banned head coverings on school grounds. He called for this move to be viewed as proof that peaceful coexistence and mutual support between religions is possible in practice.

To read excerpts of Ibrahim's article, click here.

Egyptian Sociologist Dr. Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim Abandons His Support For The Iraqi Resistance, Says: "Even if Islam Is aA Solution, The Arab Muslims Are the Problem" – July 21, 2008

On December 21, 2007, MEMRI reported on a polemic between Iraqi liberal writers and the Egyptian sociologist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim, a well-known reformer who currently heads the Arab Democracy Foundation in Qatar. The Iraqis were angered by two articles Ibrahim wrote on the war in Iraq, in which he compared the Iraqi resistance to the liberation movements in Vietnam and Algeria. The Iraqis were profoundly disappointed at Ibrahim's position, and claimed that he had abandoned the democratic camp and joined forces with extremist Islam.

On December 29, 2007, Ibrahim published a response to his Iraqi critics in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, titled "The Rebuke from the Iraqi Brothers." In this article he defended his position, arguing that the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is not clear cut, and that a scientific analysis of the situation in Iraq suggests that it is not qualitatively different from the wars in Vietnam and Algeria.

However, in a subsequent article, in Al-Masri Al-Yawm on May 17, 2008, Ibrahim struck a different note, observing that Al-Qaeda in Iraq had killed 10 times more Iraqi Muslims than U.S. troops, and condemning them together with a long list of other armed Islamist groups.

To read excerpts of Ibrahim's article, click here.

Iraqi Liberals Attack Egyptian Reformer Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim for Comparing Iraq To Vietnam And Algeria And For Expressing Sympathy For The Resistance – December 20, 2007

A polemic has recently erupted between noted Egyptian sociologist and reformer Dr. Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim and Iraqi liberal authors over the war in Iraq. The controversy centered on recent articles by Ibrahim comparing the Iraqi resistance to the Vietnamese fighters at Dien Bien Phu and to the Algerian FLN. In response, a number of Iraqi liberals – Dr. 'Abd Al-Khaliq Hussein, Kazem Habib, and Iraqi Kurdish author Hosheng Broka – rejected Ibrahim's historical comparisons, and accused him of supporting Baathist and Al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for crimes against the Iraqi people.

To read excerpts of Ibrahim's articles, click here.

Egyptian Progressive: 'We Should Understand And Practice The Concept Of Civil Strife' – September 13, 2004

Egyptian progressive Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim, the chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, published an article in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat describing the apathy that characterizes the Egyptian people's feelings toward their government, and imploring them to engage in more focused "civil strife."

To read excerpts of Ibrahim's article, click here.


[1], September 30, 2023.

[2], September 29, 2023;, accessed October 3, 2023.

[3], March 7, 2014.

[4], October 1, 2023.

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