Date: May 31, 2001
Contact: Johanna Ebner
(202) 383-9005, ext. 320
Association Protests Egypt's Sentencing of Sociologist
Washington, DC -- Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociology professor at the
American University in Cairo, and founder and director of the Ibn Khaldun
Center for Development Studies, was sentenced on May 21, 2001 to seven
years in prison by the High State Security Court in Egypt. Twenty-seven
of Dr. Ibrahim's associates at the Center also received sentences ranging
from time served to seven years. The decision was handed down in a judicial
process where some of the usual rights and protections guaranteed in the
civil court system, including the right to appeal, may be suspended.
The Ibn Khaldun Center is a civil and human rights organization in Cairo,
and had been an outspoken critic of Egyptian government policies. Its
activities have included producing a documentary about voter fraud; serving
as election monitors; and conducting research on democracy, civil society,
and minority rights in Egypt.
Dr. Ibrahim, 62, holds U.S. and Egyptian citizenship and has a PhD in
Sociology from the University of Washington. He is an internationally
respected advocate for greater democracy and respect for human rights
in the Middle East.
In its letter of protest to President Mubarak and other Egyptian officials,
the American Sociological Association (ASA) urged reversal of the verdict
against Dr. Ibrahim and his associates. Writing on behalf of the ASA,
President Douglas Massey and Executive Officer Felice J. Levine said,
"We are profoundly dismayed by the sentencing procedure which delivered
such harsh and unwarranted sentences to Dr. Ibrahim and his associates.
The three-judge panel reached its decision only 90 minutes after defense
lawyers had finished their summations, without consideration of the thousands
of pages of documents, and information that was filed only hours before
the verdict was announced. The judges did not explain under which counts
Dr. Ibrahim and his associates had been found guilty. The unfairness of
the procedure and the sentence is in direct violation of a number of international
treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, which Egypt ratified on August 4, 1967."
The ASA's letter expressed grave concern that the verdict was handed
down as a result of Ibrahim's work as a scholar and scientist. The sentence
is particularly discouraging considering that, in expression of his work,
Dr. Ibrahim's protections are guaranteed by the 1967 Covenant which states:
"everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference (Article
19.1); everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right
shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas
of all kinds (Article 19.2); and everyone shall be entitled to a fair
and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal
established by law (Article 14)."
ASA has actively followed this case and filed letters of protest after
Ibrahim's arrest on June 30, 2000. At that time he was charged with accepting
funds from the European Union without official permission, deliberately
disseminating false information and malicious rumors about the internal
affairs of the State, and harming the image of the State abroad. He was
released on bail in August 2000 after being held in prison for 45 days.
Prosecuting arguments were heard in February 2001, and the court was adjourned
until April 14, 2001 to give the defense some time to prepare its response.
A sentence was returned only 90 minutes after defense lawyers finished