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May 31, 2001

American Sociological Association Protests Egypt's Sentencing of Sociologist

Washington, DC - May 31 2001 - 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 their summation.


About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.