Egyptian Minister’s Bizarre Statements Turn Reality on Its Head
New York City – In statements made public today, Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga is revealed to have told investigators last October that U.S. support for human rights and democracy organizations “indicates a clear desire and determination to abort any opportunity for Egypt to rise as a modern democratic nation.” She also accused the United States and Israel of wanting “to hijack Egypt’s uprising.” “Minister Aboul Naga’s comments are a cynical attempt to appeal to nationalist sentiment and to spread disinformation,” observed Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “It is the actions of Minister Aboul Naga – instigating the prosecution of 43 civil society activists, including 19 Americans, and harassing scores of others – that are threatening Egypt’s peaceful democratic transition. Strong independent civil society organizations that promote democracy and monitor the government’s human rights practices are an essential part of any modern democratic society.” Hicks notes that Aboul Naga is a hold-over from the repressive anti-democratic Mubarak era and has served as minister of international cooperation since 2004. In January, following a trip to Cairo, Human Rights First issued a new report, “Egypt’s Transition to Democracy One Year On: Recommendations for U.S. Policy ,” detailing what actions the United States should take to promote a peaceful democratic transition. The report contains several recommendations for U.S. policy, including practical suggestions for getting beyond the controversy over U.S. support for independent NGOs in Egypt that is being exploited by anti-democratic elements within the Egyptian government. For example, it calls on the U.S. government to negotiate a durable arrangement with the Egyptian authorities that will ensure the long-term stability and integrity of U.S. assistance to independent human rights and democracy organizations in Egypt. For more information about this report or Human Rights First’s work on Egypt, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at [email protected] or 202-370-3323.