Reviving Middle Eastern Liberalism

Issue Date October 2003
Volume 14
Issue 4
Page Numbers 5-10
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From Ottoman times in the 1850s until the rise of Nasser and the Free Officers’ regime in the mid-20th century, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East enjoyed a kind of Liberal Age that saw civil society, NGOs, and the rule of law advance. Some institutions born during the Liberal Age endure. In March 2003, one of these, the Egyptian Court of Cassation, overturned the Hosni Mubarak government’s jailing of Saad Eddin Ibrahim and its June 2000 shutdown of his Cairo-based Ibn Khaldun Center. Dr. Ibrahim spoke at the NED about his prison sentence, his winning legal case, and his hopes for a rebirth of Middle Eastern liberalism.

About the Author

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, founder and chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, delivered the 2006 Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World (see box on p. 6). Dr. Ibrahim has been one of the Arab world’s most prominent spokesmen on behalf of democracy and human rights. His 2000 arrest and subsequent seven-year sentence for accepting foreign funds without permission and “tarnishing” Egypt’s image sparked a loud outcry from the international community. In 2003, Egypt’s High Court of Cassation declared his trial improper and cleared him of all charges. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than thirty-five books in Arabic and English, including Egypt, Islam, and Democracy: Critical Essays (2002).

View all work by Saad Eddin Ibrahim