At the “Wave of Freedom” conference yesterday at the Bush Institute, Egypt’s most famous dissident and freedom fighter Saad Eddin Ibrahim offered sage advice about freedom, peace and democracy. Telecast live from a conference he was attending on democracy in Brussels, he said the Middle East process can draw inspiration from the developments in Eastern and Central Europe, particularly in terms of cross-border relations both economic and political. He said that peace and democracy go hand-in-hand. He believes that if Egypt and Tunisia can become full democracies, then the rest of the Middle East can follow. From his many decades of work for democratic change and human rights, as words of encouragement to fellow freedom fighters, he stated: “The door of freedom will always break through. Never give up. Never despair.”
Mr. Ibrahim spent three years in Egyptian prisons, undergoing all manner of torture from 2000-03. Many democracy-seekers, young and old, hold Mr. Ibrahim as their hero in the fight for freedom in the Middle East, and other parts of the region where repression dominates. In response to a question posed by a younger dissident, he said that “revolutions need continuous nurturing. One must fight to protect [the gains made in] revolution.” He also expressed that “democracy is an antidote for terrorism.” Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, moderated the remarks and was a close colleague of Dr. Ibrahim’s. The close working relations from present and past between Dr. Ibrahim and Gershman offered an insider’s view rarely found at conferences.