A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Saad Eddin Ibrahim Sentence Overturned

An Egyptian court has dismissed a two-year prison sentence against prominent Egyptian dissident and sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Professor Ibrahim, well known to most in the academic community in this country, has been living in exile in the West to avoid imprisonment on the charges of damaging Egypt's reputation. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is no rabble-rousing revolutionary, but a strong advocate for democracy and reform in his home country. Some of his critics say he is actually better known in the West than he is in Egypt, but that is also why the government tends to seek to silence him: he is respected and listened to in the US. I've known him since the late 1970s, and am hardly unusual in that respect. For anyone favoring freedom of expression the court ruling is good news. Congratulations to Saad and Barbara Ibrahim, although as the article notes, the ordeal is not quite over as there are still some outstanding charges.

UPDATE: I didn't mention it, but as David Mack has noted in a comment below, voiding Saad's conviction is also well timed, given Obama's imminent visit. The civilian Egyptian courts are among the last really independent institutions in the country, but they are neither immune to nor deaf to political convenience.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

With Obama coming to Cairo, it will be a break for both Egyptian government and the U.S. if this case is no longer active. It would not surprise me if someone close to Mubarak had not hinted as much to the court.