What’s the truth behind Egypt’s NGO crackdown?

This story, like any other, has two sides. In separate opinion pieces, Egypt’s international cooperation minister and the president of one of the affected groups provide contrasting accounts of the situation.

The investigation into the work of 10 foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations is a purely judicial process, Fayza Aboul Naga, Egypt’s minister of planning and international cooperation, writes in on op-ed for the Washington Post. The NGOs under trial are unregistered and operating illegally, she explained.

The minister also outlined the steps leading to the probe of NGOs’ operations and the pending trial of some of their staff members. Further, Aboul Naga criticized calls for Egypt’s military and the supreme council to intervene in the investigations — a move she described as baffling. She stressed the investigations are in line with the transition process Egypt is pursuing.

Freedom House President David Kramer, however, dismissed Aboul Naga’s account as incomplete and a misrepresentation of the campaign. The minister, he said, did not mention the scurrilous charges she has made against Freedom House and other NGOs.

Kramer also countered Aboul Naga’s explanation that only 10 organizations are under investigation and that 35,083 other local and foreign groups “operate in Egypt without a problem.” He said some 400 other local civil society groups are also under investigation and could be “shut down and their staffs arrested in a heartbeat.”

“In other words, what [Aboul Naga] has unleashed is a full-frontal assault against Egyptian civil society,” Kramer writes in response to the minister’s op-ed.

The Freedom House president also insisted his group and several others under investigation were not operating illegally in Egypt. He explained their applications for registration have, for the longest time, been met with nonaction by the Egyptian government.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.