Foreign-funded NGOs face new attacks from ‎Egypt MPs

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 4 Apr 2016

Several deputies in Egypt's parliament attacked ‎foreign-funded NGOs in plenary sessions on Sunday and ‎Monday‎

Egypt's Parliament . 10, 2016 (AP)

A number of independent and opposition deputies in ‎Egypt's parliament have put forward several requests to Prime Minister Sherif Ismail regarding NGOs in the country, asking him to take "a firm stand ‎against foreign-funded NGOs operating in Egypt."‎

The most notable of these requests came in the ‎form of an "urgent statement" on Monday by Abdel-Rehim Ali, an independent MP and a ‎high-profile journalist who accuses foreign-funded human ‎rights NGOs of leading a conspiracy against the Egyptian ‎state.

"I am sure that foreign money in general and foreign-‎funded NGOs in particular have played a leading role in ‎funding terrorist and criminal acts in Egypt in recent years, ‎and now it is high time that all doors allowing foreign ‎money in Egypt should be closed," said Ali.‎

Ali cited Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali as ‎disclosing before a parliamentary committee this week that ‎as many as 61 foreign-funded NGOs were ordered by the ‎ministry to comply with Egypt's ‎NGO law (no.84/2002) and come under the umbrella of ‎the ministry.

"A mere six ‎NGOs have complied with our order," Ali quoted Wali as ‎saying. "What about the remaining 56 NGOs that ‎still refuse to be scrutinised by the Ministry of Social Solidarity?"‎

Ali asked that Prime Minister Ismail provide MPs ‎with a list of all 56 NGOs that still refuse to ‎comply with the NGO law, as well as how much money they ‎have received in foreign and local funding in recent years.‎

Ali accused the government of "bowing to foreign ‎pressure from the United States and the EU parliament" ‎not to open the file of foreign funding of NGOs in Egypt. ‎‎

"We want to expose all the traitors who got foreign money ‎to fund conspiracies in Egypt in the last few years," said ‎Ali.‎

Ali said he believes the hijacking of an EgyptAir ‎flight and its diversion to Cyprus last week was funded by ‎foreign money.

"Why does the government still refuse to open ‎the file of foreign funding in Egypt? Is it because it faces ‎tremendous foreign pressure?" asked Ali.‎

In another "urgent statement" on Sunday night, ‎Mostafa Bakri, an independent MP and a high-profile ‎journalist, accused the British and American embassies in ‎Cairo of exerting pressure on the government, forcing it ‎not to open the file of foreign-funded NGOs.

Bakri accused the British ambassador in Egypt of ‎directing a rebuke to health minister Amr Abul-Yazeed in ‎‎a text message, "not to mention that he ‎threatened an angry reaction if the minister took steps towards closing the Al-Nadeem Centre," said Bakri.‎

According to Bakri, the closure of Al-Nadeem Centre, which focuses on rehabilitating victims of violence and torture, ‎has exposed Egypt to a wave of foreign attacks in recent ‎weeks.

"The closure of this foreign-funded centre and ‎the reopening of a judicial investigation into foreign funding of ‎human rights NGOs have led US Secretary of State John ‎Kerry and the EU parliament to issue two statements ‎against Egypt in one week," said Bakri, asserting that ‎‎"these two statements clearly show that there is a Western ‎conspiracy to spread chaos in Egypt." ‎‎

"They feel regret that the agenda of chaos they spread in ‎countries like Syria and Libya has not yet reached Egypt," ‎said Bakri.‎

Bakri demanded that parliament play a more active ‎role in stemming the flow of foreign funding in Egypt.

"The ‎NGO law should be amended to impose a tight ban on ‎foreign funding of NGOs, while the foreign ministry should ‎move to defend the state against the attacks being led by ‎foreign embassies against the health ministry and the ‎government," Bakri said.‎

On Sunday, the speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-Al ‎heaped praise on NGOs that focus on reinforcing ‎economic development and improving the lives of ordinary ‎citizens in Egypt.

In a visit to the main office of the ‎Heliopolis District Development NGO in East Cairo, Abdel-Al ‎stressed that NGOs operating in Egypt should focus more ‎on helping the government implement its development ‎objectives.

"They should help the government in areas like ‎rehabilitating slum districts, providing clean water to ‎villages, and encouraging citizens to actively participate in ‎public life," said Abdel-Al.‎

A 13-member parliamentary delegation is expected to ‎travel to Brussels this month to discuss the situation of ‎human rights in Egypt with EU parliament officials.

The ‎visit comes as a response to a resolution issued by the EU ‎parliament last month addressing human rights conditions ‎in Egypt and the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in ‎Egypt last January. ‎

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