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Egypt Raids Pro-Democracy Groups

Erin Dwyer

Egyptian security forces stormed 17 human rights offices this Thursday in what The Interior Ministry has claimed was a part of an investigation in foreign funding. The interim military government has often accused such organizations of encouraging protests at the expense of Egypt’s political and economic stability with funds from abroad.

Among the organizations on the receiving end of the crackdown was the National Democratic Institute as well as the International Republican Institute. Both organizations had previously been authorized by the Egyptian government to monitor the electoral process of the parliamentary elections in which the third and final round is expected to resume next week. Police reportedly took laptops, desktops, boxes of documents, video conferencing equipment, cell phones and other electronics during the raids.

Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid a non-governmental organization’s office in Cairo.

The American advocacy organization Freedom House, Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation and at least two Egyptian NGO’s: the Arab Center for Independence of Justice and Legal Professions and the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory, were also among the scrutinized groups.

Egyptian human rights organizations have responded by accusing the country’s ruling interim military council of trying to “take revenge” of pro-democracy institutions. The raids also stirred anger throughout the West as the Obama Administration demanded authorities stop the raids on the grounds that they were “inconsistent” with long-standing U.S.-Egypt relations while German officials summoned the Egyptian ambassador to criticize the government’s “unnecessarily heavy-handed measures.”

“This open demonstration of force against civil society organizations is particularly worrying as it comes in the midst of Egypt’s transition towards democracy,” said European Union spokesman, Michael Mann. Human rights organizations are essential to the maintenance of freedom and preservation of transparent democratic system, especially in the turbulent times facing Egypt. While only time will tell- the crackdown seemingly represents a sharp turn of events in U.S. Egyptian relations.