- Documents on Democracy
Ayman Nour, a former member of the Egyptian parliament and the founder of the Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party, was arrested and imprisoned in January 2005 on charges of forging signatures in connection with the establishment of the party, charges that he strongly denied and that were widely regarded as spurious. Released in March 2005 and allowed to run for the presidency, Nour finished second in the September presidential elections with more than seven percent of the vote. In December 2005, however, he was sentenced to five years in prison. In June 2006, the letter below from Nour to Edward McMillan-Scott, vice-president of the European Parliament, was smuggled out of prison:
I address this very short letter to you and to all the honorable and free people in the world, to all the representatives of free people and those whose consciences refuse oppression, injustice, false accusations, and merciless murder.
My letter is very short due to the circumstances out of my control restricting my freedom and depriving me of my human rights, the foremost of which is the right to write, express, and reject the injustice and suffering I am subjected to!
The day my freedom was taken away in January 2005, your great efforts—after God and combined with the efforts of my supporters—played a crucial role in my release. The first faces I saw—an honor to me—were the faces of a delegation of European male and female parliament representatives. Your visit to me during my imprisonment was not only reason for breaking the doors of this prison and my temporary release, it also gave me the possibility of exercising my right in running for the first presidential election. I was imprisoned to prevent me from running for the election. With God's grace and the enthusiasm of the reformists I was able to come in second to the president and be the only competitor to him and his son despite the rigging and all forms of injustice, [End Page 181] defamation, and [manipulation] of results. I also paid an extra price when my constituency's election results were blatantly rigged, thus causing me to lose my permanent seat in the parliament. Some of you were in Cairo and witnessed a part of the tragedy.
Today I pay a new and high price as punishment for having run for the presidential election. I am also being prevented from continuing the democratic reform path in Egypt so that the current regime can strengthen its presence by claiming there is no alternative to it other than fundamentalism and terrorism, thus forcing people inside and outside Egypt to accept its presence.
Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, I do not pay this price alone. My children, family, party, my whole generation, and all the reformists in this country pay the price, too. I lost my freedom, my work as a lawyer, journalist, and chairman of the first and only civil political party to be established in a quarter of a century, the duration of Mubarak's rule. I am threatened to remain in prison for five years and prevented from exercising my political rights for another five years to guarantee that Egypt is inherited by Mubarak's son, as well as making me an example to anyone who thinks of breaking the power monopoly not only in Egypt but in the Arab world!
I call upon you to exert every effort to defend my fair case not for my sake, nor for the sake of my children or my party that is being destroyed, my human rights which are violated in this prison every morning, or my life at which illness, injustice, and oppression are eating away. I ask you to defend my fair case to keep hope alive for the coming generations, whom we do not want to lose hope. It is for these generations that I call upon you to exert every effort to defend my fair case and to visit me in prison to witness the truth which the Egyptian regime is very good at concealing and telling lies to prove the opposite. Free people of the world: I am dying alone for...