Nour objects to "democracy" letter

Pakinam Amer
7 Min Read

Wife says Interior Ministry is trying to defame him

CAIRO: Jailed politician Ayman Nour, his wife and supporters from El-Ghad party are furious about a letter that urges U.S. President George Bush to take action to free Nour. The letter, allegedly sent by activists living in various foreign and Arab countries, is meant “to defame Nour and destroy him morally, comments Gameela Ismail, Nour’s wife and El-Ghad party spokesperson.

“As Arab and Muslim intellectuals and activists concerned about the promotion of democracy in our region, we urge you to reaffirm – in words and actions – America’s commitment to sustained democratic reform in the Arab world, began the controversial letter sent out by the U.S.-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID).

The letter asked Bush to fulfill his promise during an earlier speech when he said “the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressor, and that the United States will stand with those who stand for their liberty.

Notably, the letter contains the signatures of many high-profile activists and politicians, including some high profile El-Ghad members who vehemently deny ever seeing the letter.

El-Ghad published an official statement Sunday deeming the letter a “hoax sent out by the Interior Ministry to defame Nour’s image and make him look like he was backed by the United States – backing negatively regarded by many political forces in Egypt and the Arab world.

On numerous occasions, opposition forces in Egypt have rejected what they saw as “foreign intervention from the United States. The opposition heads said that even “goodwill acts like imposing democracy or bolstering a political figure from their ranks were unacceptable, when done by a foreign country. Nour, himself, has publicly rejected any form of intervention as he himself was quoted as saying in a recent hearing held by the prosecution last Saturday.

The politician s “supporters, on the other hand, stated in their letter that even though they realize that democracy must ultimately come from within, they believe that encouragement and support from Western states is badly need[ed] in the Arab world.

The minimum support the people of the region yearn for is . to break with 60 years of U.S. support for non-democratic regimes in the region, and to make that known to the world in unequivocal terms, read the letter. This would be more consistent with the principles of the United States.

Nour s apparent “enthusiasts urged the United States not to be affected by other countries’ experiments, and not to ignore the government’s crackdown on the opposition. The letter said that “some autocrats have recently intensified repression, under the impression that U.S. support for democracy is wavering.

“This is a kind of political fraud, said Amir Salem, Nour’s lawyer, in a published statement from El-Ghad headquarters. “I call this moral assassination, a personal injury to a figure [Nour] who in the first place refuses to go into discussion [about his case] with any foreign country, especially the United States.

Strangely enough, the letter features the signature of Salem himself, who strongly denies knowing about the letter before it began circulating in the press and on the Internet. Salem said that he would never send a letter to Bush, since he regards the American leader as “another face of the coin of state terrorism.

“The idea of contacting Bush has never crossed our minds during the past two years; not me, not Ayman Nour and not even El-Ghad party, adds Salem.

Salem, backed by El-Ghad and Ismail, filed two complaints to the general prosecutor about the letter. Salem said he would sue the president of the center who had sent the letter in court for “stealing their names.

In addition to El-Ghad members, the letter features names of political figures from top organizations inside Egypt, including Saad-Eddin Ibrahim’s Ibn Khaldun Center, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sawasiya Center for Human Rights, the American University in Cairo and the Kenana Center for Research and Studies to name a few.

“This is a conspiracy, comments Gameela Ismail in El-Ghad’s official statement in response to the letter. “Whoever is doing this is targeting Nour’s popularity and credibility among his supporters.

“Our party believes in Nour’s innocence and in divine justice, we would never direct any calls to President Bush, or any other leader for that matter, Ismail adds. Ismail was quoted by Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper as saying that she accuses the Ministry of the Interior of “masterminding such incidents to defame her jailed husband and destroy him politically and morally.

Ismail had told The Daily Star Egypt last week that she does not measure American support for Nour anyway, and any statements made by President Bush, or the U.S. State Department are “all diplomatic statements, and they do not mean more than that.

Ismail added that it is not the support of the United States that her husband awaits. We never really gave that much attention to American support, she said.

Nour was indicted in a forgery case in December of last year, following a fierce political battle against presidential candidates in Egypt’s first multi-candidate elections. The politician was sentenced to five years in prison, which he is currently serving in the ill-reputed Tora Mazraa Prison.

Nour was accused of faking member signatures needed to register and legitimize his liberal El-Ghad party. More charges were later added to the list. The politician was indicted with assaulting and injuring members of the ruling party on the day of the presidential elections, insulting and distorting the image of Egypt s regime symbols and president of the state, [and name-calling] President Mubarak.

The court of cassation had refused his lawyers’ successive requests for appeal. It has also refused to give the leader a pardon based on his medical condition, even though he suffers from diabetes and needs heart surgery.

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