News / Africa

    Trial of Democracy Activists Opens in Egypt

    Policemen sit in front of a cage holding Egyptian employees of several pro-democracy groups during court proceedings in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, February 26, 2012.
    Policemen sit in front of a cage holding Egyptian employees of several pro-democracy groups during court proceedings in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, February 26, 2012.

    An Egyptian court has opened the trial of 16 Americans and 27 other employees of foreign non-profit groups charged with illegal political activities and operating without licenses.

    Judge Mahmoud Mohammed Shoukry presided over a chaotic opening session Sunday, before adjourning the trial until April 26. Television reporters crowded around the judge while an Interior Ministry official threatened to expel journalists from the rowdy Cairo chamber.

    The defendants have been barred from leaving Egypt. Some others left the country before the travel ban was imposed. Still others have taken refuge at the American Embassy in Cairo.

    The 43 pro-democracy activists include Sam LaHood - son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. They are accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad, carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work, and failing to get the necessary operating licenses.

    The groups say they have long sought to register in Egypt. The U.S. State Department has said the groups were there to help with elections. It says the Americans are completely unbiased and do not support or raise money for any individual political candidates.

    Washington has warned that it could cut $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt if the trial goes ahead. U.S. officials are holding intense discussions with Egypt to resolve the issue.

    Along with 16 Americans and 16 Egyptians, the defendants include Germans, Palestinians, Serbs and Jordanians.

    The United States is trying to establish better ties with the military council that took power last year following the ouster of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. U.S. legislators and Egyptian activists say the trial is politically motivated. Rights groups have sharply criticized the investigation, saying it is part of an orchestrated effort by authorities to silence groups critical of the military's handling of the country's democratic transition.

    Egyptian officials say the trial has nothing to do with the government and is in the hands of the judiciary.

    Also Sunday, Egypt's military rulers called on the newly elected parliament to convene March 3 to elect a 100-member assembly to write the country's first constitution since Mr. Mubarak's overthrow.

    A power struggle over the future document is rapidly developing between Egypt's army-backed executive and the Islamist-dominated parliament, which wants to curb broad presidential powers.

    Political groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, already have begun talks on the make-up of the constituent assembly. The panel is expected to include legal experts as well as legislators.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
    Middle East Voices
    . Follow our Middle East reports on
    Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora