Former Professor Says Attack on UN Could Backfire on Anti-US Forces

Former Professor Says Attack on UN Could Backfire on Anti-US Forces

August 20, 2003

August 20, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - "An Egyptian human rights activist said Tuesday's bombing of the hotel serving as the UN headquarters in Baghdad could backfire on insurgents opposed to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq," today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes of a former DePauw University professor. "Saad Eddin Ibrahim ... said the United Nations 'had a long history of helping the Iraqi people before and during the occupation.' He compared the possible fallout from Tuesday's bombing to what happened in Egypt after dozens of foreign tourists and their Egyptian guides were killed in 1997 by Islamic militants."

"The Egyptian population turned against the whole movement because the tourists were civilians and guests of the country," Dr. Ibrahim tells the newspaper. "It was the beginning of the end of that movement -- at least the violent wing of that movement. I don't think it will recover for many, many years."

The story points out that the professor briefly advised the regime of Saddam Hussein thirty years ago, something he now regrets. "At the time, you could not tell. We went for very innocent and legitimate objectives."

Writer Shelia Poole notes, "The 64-year-old Ibrahim ... became an international cause célèbre after he was jailed for nearly three years in 2000 by the Egyptian government for his activism on electoral and democratic reform ... The seeds of activism were planted in Ibrahim when he moved to the United States from Egypt in the 1960s. After completing his studies, he was a professor at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, from 1967 to 1975, from where he closely monitored the turbulent era of the civil rights movement, the opposition to the Vietnam War, and the women's rights movement. Ibrahim said he was profoundly affected by the speeches and struggles of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., particularly his strategy of nonviolence and grass-roots organization."

Ibrahim says, "They were all great movements, and each brought out something in me. I always drew parallels between those causes and the concerns of my people back home in Egypt, the Arab world and the Middle East. I came to the conclusion that oppression is oppression. Exploitation is exploitation, regardless of geography, culture and race, and there is a linkage among people who are fighting for justice everywhere."

The story mentions that Ibrahim "lives in Cairo with his wife, Barbara Lethem Ibrahim [DePauw 1971], regional director of the Population Council, and their family," and that the professor, who reopened the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in June, "is working on two books, one a memoir of his time in prison."

Access the entire article by clicking here. For complete coverage of Saad Eddin Ibrahim's April 18, 2003 visit to DePauw, including video and audio clips, click here.