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EGYPT: Egyptian-American activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim convicted again!

August 2, 2008 |  7:44 am

Saadafp_2Human rights advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim was sentenced today to two years in prison for "tarnishing Egypt’s reputation" -- a verdict expected to open a new chapter in the case of the Egyptian-American activist. 

It is not his first time. In 2001, Ibrahim was sentenced to seven years in prison for similar charges; the case kept languishing in exceptional and ordinary courts until he won an appeal and got released in 2003. Meanwhile, Ibrahim spent ten months behind bars. It is widely believed in Egypt that his liberation was the direct outcome of U.S. pressures on the Egyptian government.

In recent years, Ibrahim, professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo and the founder of the Ibn Khadoun Center for Development Studies, has established himself as one of the most vocal critics of President Hosni Mubarak. In 2005, he announced that he would run for the presidency bashing Mubarak’s regime. 

Last month, Ibrahim, who has been living in self-exile for almost a year, told BBC Arabic that he would return home only if assured that he would not get arrested.

Legally, the 69-year-old academic has the right to appeal the verdict.

Last summer, Ibrahim, who writes for several international and local papers, published an inflammatory opinion piece in the Washington Post where he intimated that the U.S. should pressure Egypt towards democratic reforms by cutting aid. The piece caused too much stir at home.

"Yet Mubarak's regime has gone unchecked for years, since long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 'war on terror' and despite the billions of dollars in foreign aid the United States continues to give Egypt each year. The question is: Why?" wondered Ibrahim in his column titled "Egypt’s Unchecked Repression."

"Like other autocrats with declining legitimacy, Mubarak is trying to tighten his grip on power…My fear is that these abuses will spread if Egypt's allies and friends continue to stand by silently while this regime suppresses the country's democratic reformers," continued Ibrahim.

—Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Saad Eddin Ibrahim (AFP)