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Egypt: Report on US NGOs False | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Muhammad al-Dimirdash, legal adviser to the Egyptian Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs and vice chairman of the State Council, has denied that Cairo recently refused to grant licenses to foreign or US organizations to operate in Egypt. Al-Dimirdash explains that the media reports on this issue are based on dated figures and information.

Al-Dimirdash has stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that only five foreign organizations applied for licenses in 2012, only one of them satisfied the conditions, and it has been granted a license to operate in Egypt.

Official Egyptian Middle East News Agency [MENA] published that the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs refused to grant licenses to operate in Egypt to eight US organizations. This has aroused angry reactions in the civil society against Cairo’s severe restrictions on the operation of the Non-Governmental Organizations [NGOs] after nearly four months of raising the issue of foreign NGOs operating in Egypt illegally, and their receiving illegal financing. This was the crisis that made the relations between Cairo and Washington tense for a brief period, until Cairo released the foreigners accused in the case at the beginning of March 2012.

According to Al-Dimirdash, the published number of the organizations that were rejected is extremely old, and has been done along the past years, and not only recently.” Al-Dimirdash continues: “Most of those organizations were rejected because they did not satisfy or adhere to the conditions of the Egyptian law; also some of them were rejected because of national sovereignty considerations.”

The official news agency attributed to an official Egyptian source: “The organizations were rejected because their activities are not compatible with the sovereignty of the state over its territories.”

According to Justice Al-Dimirdash, currently there are 74 NGOs operating in Egypt, including 23 US organizations, which have satisfied the conditions of operating according to the Egyptian private organizations law.

Al-Dimirdash reveals that five foreign organizations have submitted new applications for licenses to operate in Egypt. Al-Dimirdash says: “The application of the US NGO, Little Lamb, which cares for marginalized groups, and women’s affairs in Nile Delta and Upper Egypt, has been accepted.” Al-Dimirdash stresses that currently applications by foreign NGOs are being examined and studied in order to decide them in the light of the law and its rulings. Al-Dimirdash explains that none of these new applications has been rejected so far.

Observers say that tightening the restrictions on the work of the human rights organizations, which focused on exposing the human rights violations during the era of the previous regime, has continued during the assumption by the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces [SCAF] of the administration of the country, especially after Cairo launched an extensive campaign against the work of some human rights organizations in December 2011 in what is known in the media as the “case of foreign funding of the civil society organizations.”

In his turn Al-Dimirdash stresses that Egypt does not hinder the work of the NGOs in the way claimed by the media. Al-Dimirdash says: “All the organizations that have been rejected steer up fanaticism and sentiments hostile to the national spirit, such as the slogans of the Coptic citizenship and Nubian citizenship, which contradict the cohesion of the state.” Al-Dimirdash continues: “Some of the rejected organizations also call for values and ideas against the ethics of the society, such as programs for supporting perverts and for homosexual marriage.”

Cairo has rejected the application of the International Nazareth Evangelical Church, which works in the field of humanitarian relief, in addition to the American Security Institute, Global Education Organization, and Seeds of Peace Organization, also the Coptic Orphans Organization, w hose work focuses on social work, finding ways to help orphan children, and raise their standard of living, and US Latter Day Saints Center. Observers say that Cairo is afraid that some of these organizations, most of which are Christian organizations, might practice evangelical activities; however Al-Dimirdash denies this stressing that no evangelical activities have been observed by any foreign organization in Egypt.

In the case of “foreign funding of civil society institutions,” 43 human rights activists are on trial before the Egyptian criminal court. The 43 activists include 16 US citizens and 14 Egyptians, who belong to five foreign organizations: US International Republican US Institute, National Democratic Institute, US Freedom House, US International Center for Journalists, and German Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Al-Dimirdash explains that currently there are meetings between Government sides and representatives of some of these organizations to discuss the resolution of the crisis through some flexibility and understanding on both sides; however Al-Dimirdash stresses that Cairo will not allow these organizations except through the current law, or they can wait until a new law is ratified.

An Egyptian official acquainted with the dossier of the civil society organizations has said that regional and international powers are implementing their own agendas in Egypt, and they are spending millions of pounds for this purpose. The source, who stipulated the condition that he is not named, has said: “Naturally, some of these organizations threaten the national sovereignty through infiltrating the fabric of the Egyptian society, and implementing different agendas on the Egyptian soil.” The official added that, “the ideology of spying in the traditional form no longer exists. What happens is infiltration of the societies through the civil society organizations.”

While press reports say that the application of Carter Center, which aims to deploy monitors and observers of the elections to work in teams across Egypt to monitor and assess the pre-elections preparations has been rejected, the Egyptian official says that the Carter Center can continue its work and monitor the elections without obtaining a license to operate in Egypt, because of the difference between the activity of monitoring the elections and opening a bureau for the center in Cairo.

Within the same context, Interpol has said that it has erased arrest warrants issued against employees of US human rights organization accused in the case of “foreign funding” from the Interpol database at the international level. The removal of the names has taken place after the Interpol ruled that including these names was primarily a violation of the ban imposed by Interpol of involvement in political cases.