The Egypt NGO Trial Begins Amid Chaos & Bedlam

Defendants Are Caged In Egypt

So much for the Arab Spring and democracy in Egypt. How could anyone think that something good would have come out of these uprisings? Obama’s arrogant Cairo speech should come back to haunt but somehow it doesn’t.

Forty-three NGO workers, including 16 Americans, went on trial in Cairo on Sunday. Ray LaHood’s son Sam is one of the accused. For hours, 13 Egyptian defendants sat in the caged docket as a packed room of journalists, lawyers, families and spectators shouted and moved about in a frenzy. The foreign workers were not in the courtroom.

The civil-society workers represent prominent foreign and local democracy-promotion groups such as Freedom House, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Center for Journalists and the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation. They are charged with operating without a license and receiving and distributing millions of dollars worth of foreign funding to Egyptian political and civil-society groups.

The defendants face heavy fines and up to five years in prison. The Egyptians don’t like foreigners and they especially don’t like Americans, who are viewed as having backed the Mubarak dictatorship. The Egyptian public has no sympathy for the NGO workers whom they see as foreign meddlers…Read more: Time

The Egyptian public does not care about the $2 billion in U.S. aid that we are threatening to hold back. In fact they don’t want the funding because it is part of the peace pact with Israel which they hope to break. The NGO’s mission of democracy training was also part of the funding. This trial is a message from the new Egyptian government. The fact that we helped them topple Mubarek holds no weight.

The trial has been delayed until April which could be a good sign – maybe they are looking for  a way out and will dismiss the charges but don’t count on it.