Ayman Abd El-Aziz Nour – Egypt

Ayman Abd El-Aziz Nour (Arabic: أيمن عبد العزيز نور) is an Egyptian politician, a former member of that country’s Parliament and chairman of the al-Ghad party (Arabic: حزب الغد “Tomorrow Party”). He became famous around the world following his January 2005 imprisonment by the government of President Hosni Mubarak, which was widely understood as a politically motivated move by the state and caused a lot of internal anger as well as foreign pressure for his release. (Read the rest of this article on wikipedia).

Ayman Abd El-Aziz Nour – Egypt

Latest News on June 1, 2006 – A fire has caused serious damage to the headquarters of imprisoned Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour. No-one was injured in the blaze in his offices in the capital, Cairo. The police have said an electrical fault may have been the cause but Mr Nour’s wife suggested that there was evidence of arson. (Read the today’s article on BBC news).

Nour, 41, has been a consistent advocate of constitutional reform, calling for curtailing the president’s powers, a direct and multi-candidate poll, and a limit of two terms in office. His Al- Ghad Party sports a liberal platform advocating a free market economy, respect for the rule of law, good governance, women’s empowerment, freedom of expression, secularism, an open relationship with the West and the United States, and a vibrant multi-party system … (Al-Ahram, February 3, 2005).

No one ever challenged an Arab autocrat in the way Ayman Nour has. The 42-year-old M.P. spent years forming the liberal al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party and planning a run against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. When Mubarak suddenly opened up the field to opposition candidates for the first time in 2005, Nour launched the most spirited presidential campaign in Egyptian history, decrying incompetence and corruption in Mubarak’s regime and calling for a new democratic constitution. In the September balloting Nour wound up in second place with a respectable 7.3% of the vote. (Read more on May 14, 2006 on TIME European Edition).

He published a book advocating liberalism over Islamist politics, Yawmiyat Suhufi Mushaghib (The Memoir of a Troublemaking Journalist),[1] and began efforts to form his own liberal party. After more than three years of bureaucratic hold-up, the Egyptian government formally recognized Ghad as Egypt’s first new opposition party in more than a half-century.[2] On paper, Ghad’s influence is slight. It has only six deputies in Egypt’s 454-seat assembly while Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party has 415. But unlike other Egyptian parliamentarians, Nour used his People’s Assembly seat to agitate for concrete reforms. Three weeks prior to his arrest, he antagonized the Egyptian government by submitting a draft constitution mandating contested elections rather than a simple referendum on the incumbent’s rule.[3] As a result, Nour’s popularity has been on an upswing. One Egyptian analyst predicted he could win 20 to 30 percent of the vote.[4] Mubarak, 76, retaliated with charges many Egyptians considered spurious. He accused Nour of forging signatures he collected in order to establish the party, a charge Nour rejects. Upon arrest, security forces kept him in a room less than 12 square feet at Nora prison.[5].
Notes: [1] Cairo: Dar al-Hurriya, 2000. See also The Washington Post, Mar. 12, 2005.
[2] Ayman Nour, “Letter From Prison: ‘Did I Take Democracy Too Seriously,’” Newsweek, Mar. 14, 2005.
[3] Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), Feb. 17-23, 2005.
[4] The Washington Post, Mar. 12, 2005.
[5] Nour, “Letter From Prison.”
(Read the whole article on Dissident Watch).

His liberal credentials have brought him into direct competition with the youthful wing of the governing party, headed by President Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal. They have also brought him to the attention of the US, Egypt’s biggest ally in the West, which has been urging Cairo to reform the political system that has kept President Mubarak in power for more than two decades. (Read the rest of this article on this BBC site).

(March 8, 2005) Party of Tomorrow leader Mr Nour is regarded as a potential presidential candidate. But his continued imprisonment is damaging his chances of running against President Hosni Mubarak later in 2005. Mr Nour has been held in custody since the end of January. He was arrested on allegations that he forged documents used to secure legal status for his Party of Tomorrow which was formed last autumn. (Read more on this other BBC site).

July 25-Aug. 1, 2005 – Egypt is gearing up for a presidential election, the first contested one in its history. But while an amendment to the Constitution allows candidates to compete against Hosni Mubarak, opposition figures have accused the reigning president for the past 24 years of trying to impede a free and fair vote. His main challenger, Parliament member Ayman Nour, was jailed earlier this year on what human-rights groups describe as trumped up charges of forging signatures on election petitions. An Egyptian court decided recently to put off the trial until after the election in September, allowing Nour to continue his campaign. But the candidate is unhappy with the delay. Nour spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Dan Ephron in his penthouse apartment in Cairo. (Read the rest of this article on Newsweek International).

Mr. Nour, a 41-year-old member of parliament and a secular democrat, had announced that he intended to challenge President Hosni Mubarak’s plan to extend his term in office. The 77-year-old strongman responded by ordering Mr. Nour’s prosecution on trumped-up charges. U.S. pressure obtained Mr. Nour’s release on bail in March, and he proceeded to stage a quixotic campaign against Mr. Mubarak in September’s unfair presidential election. (read more of this article of December 23, 2005 on washingtonpost.com).

The Court of Cassation last week rejected an appeal by Ayman Nour contesting his five-year jail sentence for forgery. Nour was sentenced last December by the Criminal Court … The decision by Egypt’s highest judicial body dashed Nour’s chances to prove his innocence and dealt a crushing blow to any political aspirations he may have. The former leader of the liberal Ghad Party – who came second to President Hosni Mubarak in last year’s presidential elections – will be effectively banned from political life. Nour’s only chance to overturn his prison sentence now is a presidential pardon, though the sentence will remain on his records. Nour has said before that he will not petition those who wronged him for a pardon, though deteriorating health may yet cause him to change his mind … Nour’s supporters and defence team were shocked by last week’s ruling. The court had been expected to consider a recent report by the Cassation Prosecutor recommending a retrial. But according to defence lawyers the Court of Cassation did not even look at the 215-page report which concluded that the case against Nour was weak … “The recent confrontation between the state and the judges has demonstrated to all political forces that reform will only come about through perseverance and continued mass mobilisation,” El-Sayed told Al-Ahram Weekly. The US administration described the rejections of Nour’s appeal as “representing both a miscarriage of justice by international standards, and a setback for the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people”. In response the Foreign Ministry argued that US criticisms “infringed on the rulings and independence of the Egyptian judiciary”. The US State Department, through spokesman Sean McCormack, clarified that the criticism was directed not at the Court of Cassation, but at the Egyptian government for prosecuting Nour in the first place … Nour’s defence team will now seek to have the case referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amir Salem, head of the team, revealed that a delegation from the European Parliament — which has shown solidarity with Nour from the beginning — will begin a European tour in Rome, and end at the headquarters of the ICC in the Netherlands, in an attempt to pressure the court into accepting Nour’s case. (Read the whole long article of May 25, 2006 on Al-Ahram Weekly).

News May 18, 2006 – Court refuses to hear appeal of Ayman Nour, ex-challenger for presidency … The proceedings against Nour affected Egypt’s relations with the United States. While Nour was detained for 42 days early last year, U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice cancelled a visit to Egypt in what was seen as a protest. The State Department criticized the prosecution, saying it raised doubts about the sincerity of Mubarak’s pledge to open up the political system. (Read the whole on CBCnews).

Plainclothes security men beat and kicked protesters rallying in support of Egyptian judges and judicial independence in Cairo, while Egypt’s highest appeal court threw out the appeal by jailed opposition leader Ayman Nour. Nour had appealed against a five-year prison sentence handed down to him in December. He cannot launch another appeal. “It’s shocking. I hope God gives patience for what he is in now, which is total injustice,” Nour’s wife, Gamila Ismail, said. Nour says the charges against him of forging signatures to found the liberal Ghad Party were fabricated by the authorities. The US, a major donor to Egypt, had urged the government to free Nour, who was Mubarak’s main challenger last year in the country’s first multi-candidate presidential poll. The US and the European Union have also criticised the government over its crackdown on protests in support of two judges who have been facing a judicial disciplinary panel for criticising election abuses last year. (Read the whole article of May 19, 2006 on Gulf Times).

US Deeply Troubled by Egypt’s Handling of Nour Case. (Read the rest on VOAnews).

links:

Al-Jazeera;

Arabist.net;

American Enterprise Institute AEI;

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