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Jail for NGO Workers in Egypt

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Egypt, Development, Freedom of Speech, International Relations, Politics

The sentencing [1] of 43 Egyptian and foreign employees in non-governmental organisations [NGOs] to jail terms of up to five years, has sparked anger on social media networks – and on the ground. The move is seen as a warning for human rights organisations, and those promoting democracy.

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia explains [2]:

It is just sad because NGOs played an extremely important role in Egypt when it comes to development and foreign funding played a role in this. What is even more sadder is how the Egyptian NGOs workers and employees are being punished in this way.
Those Egyptian women and men may not find a job in Egypt easily when they are officially convicted in a political case like this.
Of course the world is not stupid , it understands what happened and is happening.
You must know that this was the trick of the old Mubarak’s regime , to let those NGOs to work without any licensing in order to close those organizations whenever they are crossed the red line . It happened before with TV channels like Orbit, Dream TV and Al Jazeera Mubshar Misr.
Of course it is worth to mention that the Muslim brotherhood is walking on the same path like Mubarak regime and SCAF.
This is another setback to human rights in Egypt and actually it will not encourage people to come to the country or invest in it. I believe this verdict will also be a setback in the relation between the United States and the Muslim brotherhood as well EU and the Muslim brotherhood.

On Twitter, netizens reacted with shock.

Sally Sami tweets:

@Salamander: [3] In utter shock of the #NGOtrial verdict!! No one should be imprisoned simply for working for an NGO … #NGO #ngocrackdown

Lina El Wardani comments:

@linawardani [4]: Shocked & terrified by the #NGOtrial verdict 11 sentenced to 1 year suspended 5 to two years and 27 5 years in absentia, 4 NGOs closed

Bel Trew notes:

@Beltrew: [5] #NGO trial was spear-headed by a Mubarak-era minister under #SCAF rule, individuals were on trial NOT organisations for being unregistered

And Mona Eltahawy adds:

@monaeltahawy: [6] “Justice” in #Egypt: jail time for defendants in politically motivated #ngotrial, acquittals for regime figures/police who killed protesters

Ghada Shahbender laments [ar]:

المآساة الحقيقية انه ٩٩٪ من المصريين حيتقبلوا الحكم بالسجن على موظفين المنظمات الغير حكومية و يفرحوا بتحجيم ‘التدخل الاجنبى’ اللى بيروج

@ghadasha [7]: The real tragedy is that 99 per cent of Egyptians will accept the [court] ruling to jail the NGO employees and will be happy for curtailing “foreign interference”, which is being promoted

نظام مبارك و المجلس العسكرى و الاخوان – اللى بيتلقوا معونة دولية و بيشحذوا من المجتمع الدولى – روجوا لفكرة ‘التدخل الاجنبى’ و استغلوها للقمع

@ghadasha [8]:… by the Mubarak regime, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] and the Muslim Brotherhood – who all get international aid and beg the international community. They have promoted the idea of “foreign interference” and then abused it to crackdown [on NGOs]

One of the defendants, Robert Becker, who was sentenced to two years and was the only foreign defendant to remain in Egypt during the trial, said he was forced into “exile” after the verdict was announced. He tweeted:

@rbecker51 [9]: Safely out of #Egypt. On my lawyers advice, I have unwillingly and angrily gone into exile until appeals get sorted out. #NGOtrial

In two previous tweets, he explains:

@rbecker51 [10]: Thank you everyone for the kind words. Reviewing my legal/appeals options with lawyers #NGOtrial

@rbecker51 [11]: #pt Maintaining my innocence on charges of starting NGO six years before I actually arrived in Egypt & waiting for appeal strategy #NGOtrial

Sally Sami concludes [ar]:

فعلا داخلين على أيام سوداء لما ناس يتحكم عليها بالسجن لمجرد أنهم اشتغلوا في منظمات غير حكومية …

@Salamander: [12] We really are entering black days .. when people are sentenced to jail just for working in NGOs

For more reactions, check out the hashtags #ngocrackdown [13] and #ngotrial [14].

According to news reports and their own Twitter accounts, the defendants will appeal the sentence.