Ayman Nour is a brave man, and as a democrat and opposition leader in Egypt he needs to be. A lawyer, and the founder and head of the al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party, he ran in the 2005 election against Hosni Mubarak, who has been running Egypt by emergency decree for over 20 years. In the circumstances, Nour's bid was hardly more than a symbolic gesture, but Mubarak made sure to send him to prison for four years.
Released this February, Nour has petitioned Mubarak to lift restrictions on his civil and political rights. Then he declared that he would run for president again in 2011. The very next day, someone on a motorbike rode up to him in the street, identified him by name, and fired an improvised flame-thrower. Nour's forehead, the side of his face, and much of his hair were burned. The attack was probably timed to coincide with President Obama's much-heralded June visit to Cairo. "In an authoritarian regime like ours you cannot know the reasons why things like this happen," says Nour, giving proof that his courage has not been even lightly singed.