Who is Saad Eddin Ibrahim trying to fool?

Saad Eddin Ibrahim–the well-known dissident, Egyptian-American sociologist and human rights activist–signed a statement on Monday, issued by the Popular Coalition to Support Gamal Mubarak for Presidential Candidacy, backing the nomination of the president’s son in next year’s elections.

Media outlets reported the act as totally unexpected on the part of Ibrahim, who is widely known as a strong critic of President Hosni Mubarak.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim maintains there is nothing perplexing about what he did, adding that he, in principle, believes in the right of every Egyptian to be nominated for the presidency.

In statements published by Al-Masry Al-Youm, Ibrahim went so far as to say that if Gamal Mubarak were elected in a free and fair election process it would not be considered an “inheritance” of power from father to son.

To be sure, Ibrahim, more than anyone else, is well aware that the road has been paved for Gamal to assume the presidency. He knows that Article 76 of the constitution was amended a few years ago to maximize Gamal’s chances of winning the presidency and to impede the nomination of other candidates.

In fact, the rigging of election results is the inevitable corollary of Gamal’s nomination, for the president’s son will not stand in the election to compete, but to win.

So who is Ibrahim trying to fool?

There are two explanations for Ibrahim’s sudden change of course–one which assumes good intentions on his part, while the other does not.

Assuming his actions are well-meaning, Ibrahim’s support for Gamal can be explained by his unstable psychological and social conditions and the pressures he has been subjected to lately–imprisonment, self-imposed exile and repeated threats by Mubarak’s government.

Alternatively, Ibrahim may have cut a deal with the regime: it stops threatening him and, in return, he weakens the opposition and damages the reputation of its icons.

Either way, Ibrahim has done a great disservice to himself. If the first scenario is true, Ibrahim is no longer acting rationally, but if it is the second, then he has lost all credibility as a human rights activist and an unrelenting defender of democracy.

Regardless of the reason behind Ibrahim’s embrace of Gamal, his actions have roused the contempt of many people. His frequently erratic behavior and sudden changes of attitude have always stirred skepticism over his real intentions, leaving even his sympathizers in doubt. It does not shock me that most Egyptians who used to revere him as a professor and public intellectual now seem to avoid being associated with him in any way.

Ibrahim’s shady connections with official American and Israeli bodies have cast doubt about his patriotism in the past. His support for Gamal Mubarak is the nail in the coffin, once and for all undermining his credibility as a true opponent of the Mubarak regime.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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