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NY Times Calls US Response to Conviction of Former DePauw Professor "Pathetic"

NY Times Calls US Response to Conviction of Former DePauw Professor "Pathetic"

August 5, 2002

August 5, 2002, Greencastle, Ind. - "Since Sept. 11 all we've heard out of this Bush team is how illegitimate violence is as a tool of diplomacy or politics, and how critical it is to oust Saddam Hussein in order to bring democracy to the Arab world," writes Thomas L. Friedman in a New York Times editorial that focuses on the legal struggles of a former DePauw University professor. "Yet last week, when a kangaroo court in Egypt, apparently acting on orders from President Hosni Mubarak, sentenced an ill, 63-year-old Saad Eddin Ibrahim to seven years at 'hard labor' for promoting democracy -- for promoting the peaceful alternative to fundamentalist violence -- the Bush-Cheney team sat on its hands," Friedman writes.

Dr. Ibrahim, who taught at DePauw from 1967 to 1974 and is married to 1971 DePauw alumna Barbara (Lethem) Ibrahim, was convicted for a second time of several charges including tarnishing Egypt's image, a decision that was condemned by a number of organizations, including Amnesty International and the European Union (read complete coverage here). The United States also voiced objections, but the Times' Friedman describes it as a "pathetic, mealy-mouthed response," elaborating, "The State Department, in a real profile in courage, said it was 'deeply disappointed' by the conviction of Mr. Ibrahim, who holds a U.S. passport. 'Disappointed'? I'm disappointed when the Baltimore Orioles lose. When an Egyptian president we give $2 billion a year to jails a pro-American democracy advocate, I'm 'outraged' and expect America to do something about it."

Friedman's op-ed states that "Mr. Ibrahim's 'crime' was that his institute at the American University in Cairo was helping to teach Egyptians how to register to vote, how to fill out a ballot and how to monitor elections." He concludes, "How about before we go trying to liberate a whole country -- Iraq -- we first liberate just one man, one good man, who is now sitting in an Egyptian jail for pursuing the very democratic ideals that we profess to stand for."

You can access read the column in its entirety at the New York Times' Web site by clicking here (a free registration is required).