News / USA

US Pro-Democracy Groups Under Fire for Work in Egypt

In this Thursday, December 29, 2011 file photo, workers from one of the US non-governmental organizations, the National Democratic Institute, wait as Egyptian officials raid their office in Cairo.
In this Thursday, December 29, 2011 file photo, workers from one of the US non-governmental organizations, the National Democratic Institute, wait as Egyptian officials raid their office in Cairo.
Chris Simkins

Several U.S. aid organizations are facing criminal charges in Egypt for allegedly inciting pro-democracy protests against the country's military rulers.  Egyptian prosecutors say they will try dozens of non-governmental organization workers, including 19 Americans in connection with the criminal investigation.

Tensions between the United States and Egypt are growing over accusations U.S. based pro-democracy groups are using foreign funds to encourage protests against Egypt's military leaders.  The controversy escalated after an Egyptian Cabinet minister accused Washington of intentionally seeking to create chaos to prevent the country from prospering.

The U.S.-based non-profit organizations deny the allegations.  They maintain they have complied with Egyptian laws and avoid favoring any particular political party.  

In December, Egyptian security forces raided the offices of 17 nonprofit groups that receive foreign funding, seizing documents and computers.  The action has outraged the Obama administration, which has threatened to cut off more than $1 billion in aid to Egypt if the issue is not resolved.

Egyptian authorities should not restrict the work of non-governmental organizations, says the U.S. State Department's top human rights official, Michael Posner.

"I very much view the situation of the four American organizations as part of the broader discussion about the role of NGO's [non-governmental organizations] in this society," he said. "There are international NGO's like those four and there are local Egyptian organizations.  All the groups need to have the ability to operate openly, freely without constrain on the basis of the content of their work."

Four of the nonprofit organizations are based in Washington and receive some U.S. government funding.  

The pro-democracy groups such as the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute are working in Egypt and in dozens of other countries.  The groups focus mostly on educating political parties on developing platforms, teaching civic groups on how to promote their causes and training election monitors.

Michele Dunne, an expert on Egypt at the research institution Atlantic Council in Washington, says there needs to be a new understanding between the United States and Egypt about the issue.

"There needs to be a recognition that a robust and free civil society is just as important to the democratization process as are free elections," said Dunne. "These kinds of NGO's are trying to do the work in Egypt that they do all over the world.  There is nothing unusual or suspicious about the work that either the American of Egyptian NGO's are doing."

During the past 30 years, the United States has funded pro-democracy groups that work in countries like Russia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.  But analysts say non-governmental workers on some occasions have been harassed or met with suspicion of having an agenda in other countries affairs.  

A fellow at Washington's Institute for Near East Policy, Eric Trager, says Egyptian state media need to stop putting out false statements about the work of pro-democracy groups in the country.

"The state run [Egyptian] press has been very aggressive in going after these NGO's and portraying them as American pawns," said Trager.

As the standoff between Cario and Washington continues, human-rights advocates say they hope the pending criminal charges against pro-democracy groups in Egypt will be dropped.  They maintain the aid organizations were simply training people to take part in the election the country's military rulers wanted to hold.  

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More