Interview with Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim

Daniel Benaim

In the weeks leading up to Egypt’s Presidential election, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Dr. Ibrahim is
perhaps Egypt’s best-known dissident intellectual and the Founder and Chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, where I was a Summer Fellow in 2005. In June 2000, Dr. Ibrahim and two dozen of his associates were arrested and jailed on charges ranging from defrauding the European Union to disseminating information harmful to Egypt’s interests. After a
three-year ordeal during which Dr. Ibrahim (62years old at the time) was sentenced to seven years of hard laborall charges against him were dismissed by Egypt’s highest court and he was released from prison in 2003. Sitting in his office in a beautiful Islamic villa in Cairo’s Mokattam Heights, Dr. Ibrahim reflected on the prospects for democratization in Egypt and on his unique role in
Egyptian politics.
People have said that one of the major problems with the United States’ Middle East policy is a failure to predict and account for
change. Are the US and Western governments ready to deal with the possibility of religious
parties taking major roles across the region?
Religious parties have already taken control in Turkey, and I don’t see any reason why they cannot do it here. We are telling policymakers to be ready. I am telling everybody to get ready, because if we don’t open the process to religious
parties, then we will be beholden to the autocrats.
And if the autocrats continue, they will be the greatest help to the theocrats, who are their mirror image.

wees Gesellig, Deel!

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