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Inside Story
Egypt's NGO crackdown
Tensions rise in Cairo as Egyptian forces raided the offices of human rights and pro-democracy groups.
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2011 10:33

Egyptian security forces have stormed the offices of at least 17 human rights and pro-democracy groups across the country.

"NGOs are an integral part of the democratic system in Egypt, democracy is all about the free will of people. When you are directing their opinion, when you are financing and funding certain activities that will direct the will of the people, then this is the red line, the government has to step in."

- Maged Reda Botros, a professor of political science, Helwan University

The organisations have been accused by Egypt's military rulers of destabilising security by fomenting protests with the help of foreign funding.

Some of the groups that were searched are funded by the US government, which also spends $1.3bn a year on aid to the Egyptian military.

The law governing the NGO's activities is a carry-over from the ousted Hosni Mubarak government.

A minister in the army-backed government has warned that foreign funding of parties and unauthorised NGOs was unacceptable.

The raids prompted harsh criticism in Egypt and even threats from the US. The spokesperson of the US state department warned that if the Egyptian government would not back down, the military could see the US Congress retaliate by freezing its badly needed aid.

So after blaming third parties for the recent unrest, the military authorities attempt to point a finger at foreign funded NGOs. But are they truly to blame, or is the military council making another mistake?

Inside Story, with presenter Shakuntala Santhiran, discusses with guests: Maged Reda Botros, a professor of political science at Helwan University, Cairo; Heba Morayef, an Egypt researcher at Human Rights Watch; and Adel Darwish, a political editor at the Middle East Magazine.

"This investigation into NGOs not registered under the NGO law is one that targets the entire independent human rights and democracy community in Egypt. Anand all of them are now at risk, because the investigation is using a repressive [Hosni] Mubarak law that should have been reformed immediately after the January and February."

Heba Morayef, Egypt researcher, Human Rights Watch

Source:
Al Jazeera
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