Ibrahim has become a sort of oracle for many Egyptian students and writers, although he is not as outspoken or as friendly to journalists as his fellow novelist and leftist Alaa Al Aswany. Along with his fiction, Ibrahim is revered for having publicly refused the Arab Novel Award, a prize given by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, under Mubarak. In 2003, Ibrahim attended the awards ceremony, but instead of delivering an acceptance speech he excoriated the regime for its feckless foreign policy, its endemic corruption, and its use of torture, all of which, he said, gave him no choice but to refuse the prize: “For it was awarded by a government that, in my opinion, lacks the credibility to bestow it.” At that time, Ibrahim was already well known as a dissenter. He had belonged to the Communist Party as a young man, and his novels of the eighties and nineties—published by independent rather than state-funded presses—were pitiless satires of Mubarak-era Egypt. He also has a reputation for personal probity, living modestly in a sixth-floor walk-up in a middle-class suburb of Cairo. The awards-ceremony speech made him a hero, especially among young Egyptian writers.