Economics of Non-Profit Accounting

Case Notes: Middle East/North Africa

The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 5, Issue 1, September 2002


Saad Ibrahim and the Ibn Khaldoun Center

by Karla W. Simon*

There has been some welcome news that a date in early December has been set for the high court hearing in the Ibn Khaldoun appeal.  The December hearing date makes declaration of a mistrial and the release of the defendants.  Defense lawyers have cited 16 irregularities in the State Security court trial which condemned Saad Ibrahim and his associates.

Ibrahim, 63, a prominent human rights and democracy activist as well as a sociology professor at American University in Cairo, was sentenced following a retrial on charges that included tarnishing Egypt’s image abroad and misappropriating funds.  The verdict against Ibrahim was condemned by local and international rights groups, including ICNL, and the European Union (EU).  The US government told Egypt that it would withhold any increases in bi-lateral aid to protest the conviction and sentencing.

In July the state security court released full details of the verdict and seven-year sentence for Ibrahim, which included charges of receiving funds from an Israeli university and NATO.  Also listed among the “foreign parties” involved in Ibrahim’s finances were the EU, the Qatar-based Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera and a Swiss human rights group, the court document said.

Ibrahim was also convicted of “fabricating false information to harm the country’s reputation,” including reports about discrimination and massacres against the Coptic Christian minority, according to the court.  Human rights activists have claimed that the verdict is defamatory.  Other Islamist activists have complained about the US response to the verdict, claiming that the concern for procedural due process has not been applied even-handedly.  For example, in one of the largest cases aimed at what are allegedly rank and file supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood party no protest has been launched.  This case began in Alexandria on 2 September 2002.

* Karla W. Simon is Editor-in-Chief of IJNL and Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America.  She is also Co-Director of the Center for International Social Development at the University .