Wallenberg Memorial Lecture 2004


Published: 28Jan2004

Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Chairman of the Board, Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, Cairo
"The Challenges for Islam and Human Rights"
Monday, February 2, 2004
5:30 pm
Moot Court Room of the McGIll Faculty of Law
3644 Peel Street
Admission is free and open to the public

Supporting organizations: the McGill Faculty of Law, InterAmicus, RSL Trustees and Human Rights Law Working Group.

Media advisory

The Honourable Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice of Canada, will introduce Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim who will give this year's Wallenberg Memorial Lecture and receive the Robert S. Litvack Award* invites media representatives to meet with Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim at a :

Press conference

10:00 am
Tuesday, February 2, 2004
McGill Faculty of Law Common Room
3644 Peel Street

Background information about Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Fact sheet

Professor of Sociology at the American University opf Cairo and Chairman of the Board of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies (ICDS) Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim and 27 associates at the Center were first arrested on June 30, 2000. ICDS is a non-governmental research organization engaged with core development issues of democratization and the role of civil society organizations.

In the initial trial, Egyptian State Security pressed three charges: receiving funding without authorization, dissemination of false information abroad, and appropriating money by fraudulent means. The charges relate to the implementation of voter education and election monitoring projects funded by the MEDA Democracy Programme of the European Union.

Dr Ibrahim was sentenced to seven years in prison on May 21, 2001.His co-defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1-5 years. In addition to Dr Ibrahim, Nadia 'Abd al-Nur, Magda Al Bey, Mohammed Hassanein, Khaled al-Fayad, and Ussama Hisham Ali served time. Marwa Gouda was tried and convicted in absentia. (Biographical sketches of the imprisoned defendants.)

After more than 300 days in prison, DrIbrahim and five other jailed Ibn Khaldoun defendants were ordered released by Egypt's highest appeals court. The court ruled on February 6, 2002 that their first trial in State Security court was improperly conducted, and ordered a retrial.

On February 4, 2003, Egypt's Court of Cassation heard the final appeal of Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim and four Ibn Khaldun co-defendants. This court had twice overturned the politically motivated sentences handed down by the State Security Court. After hearing seven hours of testimony, the Court of Cassation adjourned -- and on March 18th returned a verdict of Not Guilty on all charges against Saad and the other Ibn Khaldun co-defendants. (Magda Al Bey received a six-month, suspended sentence for falsifying documents.) The State Security arrest, trials and convictions were clear attempts by some in Egypt to silence human rights groups and stifle the development of civil society. This decision represents an important victory for the rule of law and protection of human rights in Egypt.

This case is particularly important because it is symptomatic of the larger issue of democratic development in Egypt. The repeated persecution of DrIbrahim and the Ibn Khaldun co-defendants is a direct assault on Egypt's fledgling civil society, and has sent shock waves through the community of human rights groups, professional syndicates and other NGOs. If the regime can do this to Saad Eddin Ibrahim -- and get away with it -- they can do it to anyone.

Extensive press coverage, government and human rights organization reaction, and statements from principals in the case can be found on the Democracy Egypt website and theIbn Khaldun Center website.

*The Robert S. Litvack Memorial Award - Established by McGill University in 1987 in the memory of Robert S.Litvack, a Montreal lawyer who fought for the recognition of aboriginal rights and language rights, the award is presented to a person who has made a difference, and has contributed to the defense of the rule of law.

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