In Egypt, the Brotherhood-led government is advancing a new law to repress NGOs:

By Kristen Chick, Christian Science Monitor: Is the Muslim Brotherhood seeking to kill Egypt’s NGOs? –22 February 2013

… nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders and activists say the draft shows that the FJP is adopting the philosophy of former President Mubarak, whose government saw independent groups as a threat and sought to restrict their actions and funding.


… It would interfere in the details of how NGOs operate and organize… For the first time in history it would give a legal role to Egypt’s security apparatus in overseeing civil society organizations.

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the US National Democratic Institute, an NGO in Cairo, on 29 December 2011. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the US National Democratic Institute, an NGO in Cairo, on 29 December 2011. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty


… When Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising in 2011, the military stepped in to rule Egypt, but the officials responsible for regulating civil society remained. They launched a crackdown on NGOs that were foreign or received foreign funding, raiding offices, confiscating cash and equipment, and investigating employees.


They eventually brought charges against 43 people, including Americans, accusing them of receiving foreign funds illegally. In public statements leading up to the trial, officials implied those charged had been working to destabilize Egypt. Most of the Americans fled the country last year, but one remained to face the charges.


Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, says the damage is done… “The problem is that once you adopt language that is very restrictive, even when you attempt to revise it, the revisions tend to be limited… The first draft is very significant.”


… Mr. Hassan says the ministerial veto could be used against organizations the government sees as a nuisance – for example, those working to document torture or abuse by security forces.

The most worrying article for many in NGOs is one that designates all NGO funds except member dues as “public funds.” Zaree, Egypt program manager at CIHRS, says it takes the “non” out of “nongovernmental organizations” and “nationalizes” civil society.

Some of the fourteen Egyptian activists stand in a cage during the opening of their trial in CairoNEXT STOP: JAIL

Hassan says the law means ministry officials can come to an NGO’s offices at any time, review anything they want – related to activities or finances – and refer the employees on the spot to the prosecutor.


… Rights advocates say the regulations in the law would effectively prohibit many international NGOs from working in Egypt, and greatly hinder or stop the work of local NGOs as well. Asked if CIHRS could operate under the draft law, if it were implemented, Hassan said, “if it was passed like this, I don’t think it would be possible. If we didn’t shut down they would come and shut us down.”


… CIHRS representatives received a copy of the draft law submitted by the Ministry of Local Development, overseen by Mohammed Ali Bishr, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and a well-known leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.


… The FJP bill… aims to nationalize civil society, designating the assets of civic associations and bodies — as well as domestic funds received by foreign organizations — public funds. It prohibits foreign funding for civic associations except with approval from the Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs, and gives the Minister the right to reject funding without cause. The FJP proposed draft law also contains provisions for security control over NGOs’ operations, in the form of a so-called coordinating committee.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s NGO hypocrisy?

Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, an international NGO – The Human Rights Watch – is fighting for the rights of several Egyptian Brotherhood members currently being illegally detained without charges.

“Most of the 13 Egyptians have now been detained for several months with no opportunity to challenge their detention,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This case provides yet another sad example of the UAE authorities’ ignoring due process of law and basic legal protections.”


… “If the UAE government can show the Egyptian detainees have engaged in criminal behavior, why hasn’t it charged them with a crime… Authorities should stop this shameful practice of arresting people only to hold them without charge for months on end.”

imageI sent this tweet two days ago:

@rbecker51: #pt @Ikhwanweb Isn’t great to have int’l #NGO like @HRW fighting for rights of your members detained in UAE? Stop #NGOcrackdown in #Egypt

I have received no response.