News / Middle East

    Egypt Sets Date for Trial of US Democracy Activists

    Egyptian state media has announced that the judiciary will go ahead with the trial of 43 democracy advocates, including 19 Americans, in the case of allegedly illegal funding of foreign non-government organizations.

    The announcement by Egyptian state media that the case against foreign and Egyptian democracy advocates, including 19 Americans, will go to trial on February 26 is raising already high tensions between Egypt and the U.S.

    The Americans accused in the case have officially been barred from leaving the country.  Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, who is Egypt director of the International Republican Institute, is among those charged.  Several defendants have taken refuge at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

    Egyptian state security forces raided the offices of several international pro-democracy NGOs in December, seizing computers and closing down their offices.

    Speaking on Thursday before a U.S. congressional committee, Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, strongly criticized Egyptian authorities, saying those charged have been denied basic legal rights under Egyptian law.  The IRI chief said the current NGO dispute should be resolved soon.

    "Egypt has chosen to make the NGO issue the central concern in America, Europe and elsewhere.  And the longer this issue goes on, the more difficult it becomes to unravel, and the more it poisons any new partnership we might be able to form with Cairo," he said.

    The case has prompted intense media scrutiny in both the U.S. and Egypt, heightening tensions between the two long-time allies.  Egypt's International Cooperation Minister, Faiza Abou Nega, has drummed up support for the case in the Egyptian press, for what analysts speculate are political motivations.

    Several U.S. members of Congress have urged the Obama administration to cut foreign aid to Egypt over the case. Several prominent members of Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood have in turn called on Egypt to re-examine its 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty with Israel if that aid is cut.

    Joint Chiefs of Staff head General John Dempsey met with Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi this past week to discuss the case.  Senator John McCain of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is also due in Cairo in several days to meet top Egyptian officials.

    Veteran Egyptian editor and publisher Hisham Kassem says that there is a political dimension to the case, and that it has serious economic implications for Egypt.  He argues that the U.S. will probably issue a waiver to avoid cutting the $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt, but believes there will be a freeze in other international aid to the country:

    "There will be no investments or loans coming into the country.  This is the perfect way to isolate Egypt from the international community.  I am shocked at statements made by Fayza Abou Nega who is saying that the attack on her coming from the States is a badge on her chest and that she is negotiating loans, when this is a lie.  This is one of the worst things happening in the country now since the revolution began," he said.

    Egyptian officials say privately that the country's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is furious about the judiciary case, but are extremely reluctant to interfere.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.