In Egypt, American NGO Workers Head to Court in Civil Society Trial

By Chick, Kristen | The Christian Science Monitor, June 5, 2012 | Go to article overview

In Egypt, American NGO Workers Head to Court in Civil Society Trial


Chick, Kristen, The Christian Science Monitor


Two Americans and a German returned to Egypt to face trial with Egyptian colleagues and draw attention to an NGO case they say has major implications for Egypt's democratic transition.

When an Egyptian court held a hearing in the trial of 43 civil society workers today, two Americans joined 14 Egyptians and one German in the metal cage used for defendants in Egyptian courtrooms.

One had stayed behind when the US paid millions of dollars in bail to spirit six other Americans out of the country on a private jet. The other, an Egyptian-American, was in the US when the charges were announced, but returned to Egypt voluntarily Sunday to stand trial. Both have thrown a wrench into the US government's plan to extricate itself from what had become the biggest crisis in US- Egypt relations in decades.

Both men, who could face up to six years in prison, said they came back because they think it is important to fight the charges, which they say are false and politically motivated, in part because the outcome of the case could impact the future of civil society in Egypt. And both say they also felt a duty to stand with their Egyptian colleagues on trial, who don't have the luxury of watching the drama play out from the safety of the US.

"Of the four Egyptians charged from NDI, three of them worked for me. At every turn when I was pressured to leave, I couldn't stomach it," says Robert Becker, who worked for the National Democratic Institute, an organization loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party in the US that promotes democracy abroad. "You don't walk away from your colleagues."

He and Sherif Mansour - who resigned from his job at Freedom House in Washington, D.C., to face trial - are among 43 people charged with operating nongovernmental organizations without a license and receiving illegal foreign funding. Four of the five organizations involved are US-based organizations receiving American funding; at least 16 of the defendants are American. Those not present are tried in absentia. All deny the charges and call the case a politically motivated crackdown on rights and democracy groups.

NDI and the Republican-affiliated International Republican Institute (IRI) had been operating in Egypt for years, and had both applied for licenses under restrictive Mubarak-era laws intended to curtail the activities of civil society organizations. But US funding for pro-democracy organizations in Egypt has long been controversial with Egyptian authorities. They never granted or denied the registration requests, keeping the organizations in a legal gray area. The government was aware of the activities of both organizations, and had even accredited their employees to act as official election observers in parliamentary elections last fall. Freedom House applied last year for a license to set up a Cairo office.

When the case was brought early this year, tensions increased between the US and Egypt, as Egyptian state media accused the civil society workers of being spies and working to destabilize Egypt, and authorities slapped a travel ban on the foreigners connected to the case. All of the American IRI and NDI employees except Becker sought refuge in the US embassy to avoid possible arrest until the US paid millions of dollars in bail and whisked the Americans and other foreigners away in a private jet.

Becker refused to shelter in the embassy or to board the plane. He has since been laid off from NDI. The native of Washington, DC, is a veteran Democratic political campaign manager. He has managed successful congressional campaigns in the US, and also has worked abroad in places like Indonesia.

He came to Egypt in June 2011 to work with NDI, training political parties for the first free and fair elections in Egypt in half a century. All political parties now in Egypt's parliament, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, participated in NDI's training. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

In Egypt, American NGO Workers Head to Court in Civil Society Trial
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.