Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

EGYPT: Human rights activist calls for online presidential poll

June 17, 2009 |  8:42 am

Ibrahim Human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim has called on fellow Egyptians to participate in an online poll to see which potential candidates they favor to succeed President Hosni Mubarak.

In an article published in Al Dustour on Wednesday, the self-exiled sociologist stressed that there is a crucial need for Egyptians to decide upon options as to who might best lead the country in the event Mubarak steps down or dies.

"Whether Mubarak will die now or after a long time, I ask everyone to choose who can take his place as the next Egyptian president," Ibrahim said in his article. "In order to maintain the safety of citizens taking part in this poll, participants should choose their preferred candidate and send it directly to my e-mail address."

Ibrahim, a visiting fellow at Harvard University, says the idea for the poll came to him after a conversation with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who asked Ibrahim if anyone could compete with Mubarak's son, Gamal, a leading member of the ruling National Democratic Party, as successor.

Ellison wondered about other possible candidates: opposition leader Ayman Nour; retiring International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed El Baradei; Islamic preacher Amr Khaled; director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Omar Sulieman. Consequently, Ibrahim put the five names in alphabetical order for poll participants to choose from.

"I couldn’t give Ellison a solid answer to his question. My response was only based on guessing and my personal opinion and that prompted him to inquire if Egypt undergoes any general polls showing people's directions toward important matters like this," Ibrahim said.

"I told him that similar censuses could only be allowed after the permission of the authorities, like state security and intelligence, who never allow such surveys to be carried out, and that was the moment I promised him to carry out the poll myself."

Ibrahim, founder of Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, whose recent in absentia conviction and two-year sentence for allegedly defaming Egypt's image abroad were recently overturned. Despite expressing a strong desire to return from his self-exile in the United States, Ibrahim is yet to decide a return date as he is still accused of spying by the Egyptian general prosecutor.

--Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Credit: AFP / Getty Images