Sunday, May 31, 2009

dissident Ayman Nour is pessimistic on eve of Obama visit

Los Angeles Times Articles

In Egypt, dissident Ayman Nour is pessimistic on eve of Obama visit

Ayman Nour was freed from prison early this year in a gesture to the U.S., but he fears that Washington, which needs Egypt's help in the region, won't push for democratic reforms.

May 31, 2009|Jeffrey Fleishman and Noha El-Hennawy

CAIRO — Egypt's leading dissident, his forehead singed from a recent attack, sits near a window in an armchair, depressed and wondering whether he was better off behind bars.

"I want to go back to jail," says Ayman Nour, whom the government released in February as an apparent goodwill gesture to the Obama administration. "The government insists on getting the maximum benefit out of my liberation, but they are causing me the maximum harm.

"I am denied all rights. My party cannot return to the political scene. I am stalked by the police. They are even messing with my personal life. There is no ceiling to the injustice and the revenge of this regime."

When President Obama steps to the podium Thursday in Cairo, in what is expected to be a major address to the Muslim world, many will be listening for an initiative to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. But others, like Nour and Egyptian activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, will be looking for an aggressive approach to advance human rights.

Nour, who was imprisoned after the 2005 election in which he ran against President Hosni Mubarak, is the country's most prominent opposition figure. But Mubarak's 27-year rule has seen thousands of other activists, bloggers and members of the radical Muslim Brotherhood locked up on what human rights groups say are scurrilous charges to prevent any challenge to the ruling National Democratic Party.

The question now is: How will Obama, whose charisma and speeches have entranced the Arab world, balance the United States' national interests with its calls for increased democracy in the Middle East? For decades, those matters have been at cross purposes, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two strategic U.S. allies whose regimes have stifled democratic ideals.

In Egypt, activists say the $1.2 billion in annual U.S. aid, most of it military, should be contingent on the Mubarak government granting wider political freedoms. Ibrahim, who has been in self-exile in the United States, had argued this point and was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of damaging Egypt's reputation -- a verdict that was overturned Monday in what is seen as another offering to Washington.

"Obama is the most respected American president outside the U.S. in almost a century," Nour says. "He is different. He has a different skin and comes from a different culture. The Arab person finds him an inspiring model and hopes someone like him can reach power here the same way Obama did. . . . But so far, we can say that Obama has a confusing agenda as far as democracy in this region is concerned. If he gives up democratization, his work will be meaningless."

Monday, May 25, 2009


Statement by Sergio Stanzani and Niccoló Figa-Talamanca, respectively President and Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice:
We have learned with deep concerns that on Friday 23 May 2009 an unknown assailant on a motorcycle attacked the prominent Egyptian dissident Ayman Nour by igniting a flammable substance in his face. This attack came a day after Ayman Nour pledged to supporters that he would run again for president in 2011 if his political party nominates him and if he can overturn a ban on him running.
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) continue to support the long struggle of Ayman Nour, one of the few liberal campaigners for democracy in Egypt who spent four years in prison after running against Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak in the 2005 elections, and applaud his peaceful pursuit of these ideals for the benefit of Egypt and the Arab world.
We call on the Egyptian judiciary authorities to make a complete investigation on the incident in order to bring the perpetrator of such act to justice. We also urge the political and judiciary authorities of Egypt to allow Ayman Nour to exercise his fundamental right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression, ending the repeated intimidations and restrictions against human rights defenders, in violation of Egypt's international commitments under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
It is not Ayman Nour's struggle but it is rather the repeated persecution against human rights defenders which are harming the image of Egypt abroad. We call upon like-minded democrats and governments to stand in solidarity with Ayman Nour and make their views known to the Egyptian authorities.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Egypt opposition leader Ayman Nour firebombed

Egypt's Ayman Nour claims attack, suffers facial burns

Egypt opposition leader Ayman Nour firebombed

Ayman Nour was attacked Friday evening on his way to a Ghad party meeting
Ayman Nour was attacked Friday evening on his way to a Ghad party meeting

CAIRO (Marwa Awad)

Egypt’s leading opposition figure Ayman Nour survived a bomb attack late Friday in front of his home a day after he vowed to run for elections in 2011.

Nour, one of Egypt’s best known political dissidents, was admitted to a Cairo hospital late Friday for first degree facial burns after a motorcyclist firebombed his car.

The attack took place 300 meters (984 feet) outside of Nour's home in the upper-class neighborhood of Zamalek. A youth in his late teens rode up to Nour, who had his car window rolled down, and sprayed flammable liquid in his face and lit a fire simultaneously.

“I had my window rolled down and he came up to me within a distance of one meter. He sprayed a liquid that ignited into a ball of fire that covered my face and head and I was immediately rushed to the hospital,” Nour told Al Arabiya in his first comments since the accident and declined to disclose the name of hospital he where he is being treated.

His driver was unhurt and immediately took Nour to the hospital.

Nour said he suffered first degree burns on half his face and 20 percent of his hair. Doctors told him they expect to release him within two weeks with the possibility of minor plastic surgery.

“We are in the process of filing a statement of criminal assault to the Abdel Maguid Mahmud the Attorney General to initiate an investigation into this crime,” Ehaab al-Khoury, head of the Ghad Party, told Al Arabiya. “We will also issue an official statement condemning such an act and demanding justice.”

Osama Abdel Menem, attorney with al-Ghad party told Al Arabiya he will file the criminal assault report Sunday.

Nour did not know who his attackers were, but said he believed the attack was in response to a speech he gave Thursday in Port Said announcing his resolve to run for the presidency for a second time in 2011.

However managers at Alfa market and Hardee's in Zamalek, two businesses located near the alleged attack, were unaware of any incidents around that time.

Zamalek police said no report of criminal assault was filed by Nour or the Ghad party on Friday.

" I had my window rolled down and he came up to me within a distance of one meter. He sprayed a liquid that ignited into a ball of fire that covered my face and "
Ayman Nur, Ghad Party founder

Nour, a 44-year-old diabetic, formed a political party and mounted an unprecedented challenge against veteran President Hosni Mubarak during the 2005 presidential election, coming a distant second. He was then imprisoned on charges of forging signature to found his party, which his supporters believe were trumped up, and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in February.

“There are many who could have done this criminal act, especially after my visit to the city of Port Said and the speech I gave there,” Nour said, adding that he remains resolved to carry on with his political activities and “will not succumb to any obstacles.”

Nour called the attack “unfair play outside of all norms of decency and legitimacy,” maintaining that ever since his release in February of this year, he has been periodically assailed in ways that sought to damage his political and social standing and hinder any progress on his political reform efforts.

“A series of distractions and obstacles were set in my path since my release. Attempts on my life of this illegitimate sort outside of the political arena try to disable the party’s development and progress,” Nour explained.