Saturday, March 12, 2005
Ayman Noor released on bail.
I was sure Ayman Noor would be released just like his predecessor human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim. I was also speculating that Noor's release will come before President Mubarak's annual trip to Washington. It turned out I was correct.
I credit Ayman Noor's release (if he won't be arrested again) for two main factors. First, the Egyptian elite who are not connected to the government were clearly sympathetic towards Noor. They just didn't understand why the government would arrest Noor in particular. They know why Islamists get arrested, but they just cannot comprehend the jailing of someone like Noor. It is worth mentioning that independent newspapers who are not tied to the government or have something against Noor were sympathetic towards him as well.
The second factor is the US factor. Imagine if President Mubarak made his annual trip to Washington while Noor was still in jail. It would have been a huge embarrassment to President Bush. In addition, Mubarak would have probably faced an angry US media that reserved considerable space to Noor when he was arrested.
I want to direct a few words to my president: You are greater than this Mr. President. As an Egyptian who respects you and believes that you are still the safety valve of Egypt, I ask you to give liberal democratic voices such as Ayman Noor the freedom to operate on a grassroots level. Mr. President, it hurts me to see Islamists and Nasserites (remnants of the Nasser era) as the only vocal opposition to you. Egypt deserves better opposition entities and you can help in creating them. Yesterday I was standing at a newsstand and I overheard a man asking for Al Ghad party's (Noor's party) newspaper. The seller told him that the weekly newspaper vanished from the market because of the high demand for it. You should be grateful that this man wasn't seeking an Islamist paper!
To sum up, Noor should not have been arrested in the first place. My president is a very smart politician and he should have realized back then that what happened with Saad Eddin Ibrahim will happen again with Ayman Noor. In addition, President Mubarak should have understood that the US will not play by pre-911 rules any more. The resident of the White House today is so determined about this "democracy in the Middle East thing". His mind is as stubborn as a well done piece of steak. After all, he's from Texas remember.
Ayman Noor refused to be released on bail. His lawyer said that Noor considers his case to be politically motivated and he will not accept to pay "a price for his freedom".
Sourch: Al Arabiyah (Arabic)
Noor finally accepted to pay the 10,000 Egyptian pounds bail and was released from jail. He went to his district that he represents in the parliament and announced his bid for presidency from there. He appeared in the midst of tens of his supporters who were trying to hug and kiss him.