Saad Eddin Ibrahim

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Saad Eddin Ibrahim, January 2009

Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Arabic: سعد الدين إبراهيم‎, IPA: [ˈsæʕd edˈdiːn ebɾˤɑˈhiːm]) (born 3 December 1938) is an Egyptian American sociologist and author. He is one of Egypt's leading human rights and democracy activists, and a strong critic of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Biography[edit]

Born in Bedeen, Mansoura, Egypt, Ibrahim is credited for playing a leading role in the revival of Egypt's contemporary research-based civil society movement. For most of his professional career Saad Eddin Ibrahim was a professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo. He is the founder of both the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo and the Arab Organization for Human Rights. He is married to Barbara Lethem Ibrahim. Barbara Ibrahim is the director of the Gerhart Center for Civic Engagement and Philanthropy in Cairo. The Ibrahims have two children, Randa and Amir Ibrahim. Randa has two kids Lara and Seif, and Amir has Adam and Gebriel.

Well before his confrontations with the Egyptian government in the early 2000s, Ibrahim had become a controversial figure in Egypt. He reversed his earlier criticism of Anwar Sadat for his peace initiative with Israel. He gained the respect of Egypt's human rights and civil society community for championing different causes, including Copts, Bahá'ís. and other minorities at a time of rising sectarian tensions.

Ibrahim was arrested, imprisoned and prosecuted in 2000 for using European Union funds for election monitoring, and for allegedly defaming Egypt's image abroad. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. His defense team countered that the real motives behind the government's prosecution of Ibrahim and his assistants was his outspoken criticism of President Hosni Mubarak and his administration. He was tried twice on the same charges in State Security Courts, winning each time on appeal. During a third trial before the highest civil court in 2003, he was cleared of all charges and released, but not before a storm of international protest had put the Mubarak regime on the defensive.

As an independent-minded intellectual, Ibrahim has supported fair elections when they were viewed as incompatible with Egyptian politics, promoted international democratic alliances, and accepted NGO funding from any source that shares peaceful and democratic values, including those in the US. He has recently been under attack in the official press for calling on the U.S. Congress to condition its military aid to Egypt on improvements in the country's human rights record and the freeing of another political prisoner, Ayman Nour.[1]

In 2006 Ibrahim was awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture Prize at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he previously had been a public policy scholar. He is currently a Board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation.

Ibrahim taught sociology at Indiana's DePauw University from 1967 to 1974. During the academic year 2008-2009, Ibrahim lived in the United States as a professor of political sociology at Indiana University.[2] and a visiting fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University. Ibrahim is currently the Wallerstein Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Drew University Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict [3] in Madison, New Jersey.

Sentence[edit]

On 2 August 2008, an Egyptian court sentenced Ibrahim to two years of prison for 'defaming Egypt'. He was granted a bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,890) and his lawyer expressed his will to appeal. It is reported that Ibrahim is currently in exile outside of Egypt, to avoid probable arrest upon his return.[4]

Sources close to Ibrahim reported that he also feared assassination upon his return to Egypt. Despite these concerns, however, on Wednesday, August 5, 2010 Ibrahim returned to Cairo for a visit with his family. He was greeted warmly by friends, family and supporters at Cairo Airport. In view of persistent reports of the failing health of Hosni Mubarak, growing tensions over presidential succession in Egypt and then upcoming October, 2010 elections for the Majlis al-Sha'ab (People's Assembly), supporters of Ibrahim were concerned about his safety.

As of summer 2012 Ibrahim was living in Cairo and running the Ibn Khaldun Center.[5]

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