There has been outrage from human rights groups and internationally after raids on NGOs in Cairo by Egyptian security forces.
Reportedly the offices of up to 17 foreign-based and local non-governmental organisations were searched with computers and documents seized in a probe into funding from abroad.
“The raid is a very, very serious escalation and an unprecedented move. This did not even happen under Mubarak,” said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. “Every now and then there would be a raid on one NGO, but this kind of broad sweep, looking at both international and Egyptian NGOs, is an extremely serious move and, of course, the decision to close some of them down for the moment, also.”
“I think that the storming of the rights organisations, and some foreign organisations that are present in Egypt, is a violation of human rights and a violation of the defence of the rights of Egyptian citizens generally, using the accusation that these groups accept funding from abroad as an excuse,” said political activist Abdu Qasim.
Amid internal criticism of Egypt’s current military rulers, the US and EU have voiced concern over the raids. Berlin summoned the Egyptian ambassador.
However Ahmed Gabr, an independent candidate for Egypt’s presidency, rejected the idea of any organisation taking cash from abroad and demanded that they be closed.
“We should not borrow or agree to anyone paying us to run our country,” he said.
Civil society groups, a driving force in the protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, have become increasingly vocal in criticising what they call the army’s heavy-handed tactics.