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.
source: Ahram online