The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Ayman Nour hospitalized

Imprisoned Al ghad leader Ayman Nour was admitted to hospital last night after he became ill while being interrogated:

Nour's wife, Gamila Ismail, told Reuters Nour had fallen ill during questioning at a State Security Prosecution office in the early hours of Tuesday.

"He was sweating, vomiting and holding his left arm," Ismail told Reuters, adding that Nour has a history of diabetes and heart problems.

She said Nour began feeling pain at 1.00 a.m. and his personal doctor advised he be taken to a nearby hospital.

Ismail said officials made no decision until three hours later, when they decided Nour could go to the prison hospital. But initially he declined to go, she added.

Ask yourselves: what kind of a prosecutor interrogates people at 1am?

The WaPo has responded swiftly, continuing its Egypt campaign with these strong words:

ON MONDAY President Bush again called on Egypt to "lead the way" toward democratic change in the Middle East. Apparently Hosni Mubarak, the country's leader for the past 24 years, wasn't listening. Later that same day, Mr. Mubarak's agents renewed their "interrogation" of Ayman Nour, the imprisoned head of the liberal Tomorrow Party. Six hours later -- at 1 a.m. -- Mr. Nour, a diabetic with a history of heart trouble, was "sweating, vomiting and holding his left arm," his wife told the Reuters news agency. Authorities refused his doctor's request that he be hospitalized; instead, he was taken Tuesday to a prison clinic. The Egyptian Human Rights Organization has issued a statement warning that Mr. Nour's life is in danger. Mr. Mubarak's relationship with the United States, and the U.S. aid that props up his regime, should be in danger too.

I'd like to take the WaPo to task on a few issues. First, the line below is rather over-dramatic:

In truth, he is in jail because, like Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who was assassinated last week, he offered a fresh democratic alternative in a Middle East stirred by the votes of Iraqis and Palestinians.

Comparing Ayman Nour to Rafiq Hariri is to say the least a stretch. I understand they're trying to rally people to the cause, but come on.

This also irked me:

Mr. Mubarak is no longer testing Mr. Bush; he is spitting in his face. It's a daring, maybe desperate act for a 76-year-old despot who would not survive without billions in U.S. subsidies. Egypt's future -- and Ayman Nour's life -- may depend on Mr. Bush's response.

Many Americans keep bringing on the aid issue with regards to Egypt. First, if you think about it, the importance of aid is overstated. Between regime survival and aid, Mubarak knows what to choose. The economy might suffer, but he can always reallocate resources to make sure the people that count for him still get the cash. Secondly, US aid to Egypt is mostly tied to Camp David -- the US is obligated to give it by treaty if it wants to maintain Camp David. Proponents of a more muscular policy in promoting human rights and democracy in Egypt are going to have to find alternatives, or start arguing for the cancellation of Camp David. A much better place to start would be a serious look at military aid policy under Camp David, bilateral military relations, weapon deals and so on. There is a complete lack of transparency on that aspect of the relationship on both sides, yet it's the most important thing that has sustained the regime for over a quarter-century. Remember, many torturers in the Arab world are being trained by the US and equipped by the US. Why not start there?

Update: There are rumors floating around that Nour may not be in hospital anymore and that he may have started a hunger strike, as he threatened to do two weeks ago. I do not know any more than this but will post when I do, which probably won't be until tomorrow. Today's press only reported what I wrote above.