Ismail Serageldin, former VP of the World Bank, and Founding Director of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt is a well-known figure in international circles. He is renowned for his many contributions to economic and social development, his promotion of environmentally sustainable development and his tireless advocacy of progressive views, democratic principles, gender equity and concern for the poor.
A polymath of encyclopedic erudition, Serageldin is a man of passion and compassion, who believes in reason, science, moderation, pluralism and freedom of expression. His powerful voice has been spreading the values of the Enlightenment on the front lines of the battle against extremism and violence in his embattled region. It is to his credit that he succeeded in building the Library of Alexandria as a center for national, regional and international dialogue in the sciences and the humanities.
Indeed, in 2013 the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon gave the Library and its Director its prestigious international Prize attributed annually to an institution or a person, that “stands out for their role in defense of the values essential to humanity”. The jury for the international Prize stated: “The Library of Alexandria is a cultural reference point around the Mediterranean resulting primarily from the vision, the commitment and the tireless work of Ismail Serageldin.”
It is regrettable that some wild accusations against him made back in the turbulent times of 2011, have now resulted in a lower misdemeanor court issuing a verdict of imprisonment for three and a half years, for allegedly squandering public funds. This happened despite the fact that he is known worldwide as a manager of distinction, and that he is the single largest individual donor to the institution, having given of his own funds over three million Egyptian pounds. Serageldin has immediately appealed the verdict, and the Appeals court is expected to hear the case in September. We were surprised and saddened by the present verdict, but have confidence in the Egyptian judicial system, and trust that the higher court will see that justice is done.
All of us who hereby attach our signature to this document want to record our confidence in the integrity of Ismail Serageldin, and our appreciation of his many contributions, and the enormous work he did in the creation of the Library of Alexandria in the last fifteen years making it a beacon of enlightened values for the region and for the world.