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March 12, 2005
Egypt Springs Ayman Nour

Egypt has released the democracy activist whose arrest caused Condoleezza Rice to publicly snub Hosni Mubarak and stirred up pro-democracy demonstrations on the streets of Cairo. Ayman Nour walked out of prison today on bail:

Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nur, seen by some as a symbol of the movement for democratic reform, was freed on bail after six weeks in detention, Attorney General Maher Abdel Wahed told reporters.

Nur, who heads the Ghad (Tomorrow) party, was detained on January 29 on charges of "falsifying official documents".

He was freed after paying 10,000 Egyptian pounds (1,400 dollars) along with five supporters who had been detained for the same reasons.

"The release was ordered because there is no longer any reason for his preventive detention," Abdel Wahed said. "The preventive detention had been ordered in order to allow for an investigation to be carried out in the utmost secrecy and ensure that no evidence was concealed."

It sounds as if the Egyptian government has decided to allow the story to die out quietly. If their investigation had generated any evidence of wrongdoing on Nour's part -- or at least ginned up enough of an excuse to make his detention appear justified -- Mubarak would have taken advantage of it. The arrest of Nour turned into such an embarassment for Mubarak that he had to promise a liberalized multiparty election for his next run at the presidency, and no doubt the international community expects Nour to be part of it.

Rice and the West need to keep Mubarak's feet to the fire regarding those elections. Egypt produces many of the philosophical leaders of radical Islamist as well as its operatives, thanks to the political repression and the anti-Western demonization of the Mubarak regime that only now appears to be fading. Genuine multiparty democracy will allow all sides to vent their spleen peacefully and will slowly undo the intellectual damage that Mubarak's reign has wrought on the Egyptians.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 12, 2005 6:57 AM

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» Mubarak springs Ayman Nur from TigerHawk
Like many of our new "heroes" in the Middle East, Ayman Nur has been profoundly anti-American. He led a campaign to boycott American products, for example, because of our ties with Israel. Most of the opposition in these Arab autocracies, whether lib... [Read More]

Tracked on March 12, 2005 7:53 AM

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