This blog post is a response to the unfortunate but predictable news that the Egyptian NGOs were ‘convicted’ of the ‘crime’ of receiving foreign funds. Naturally this decision is a classic example of an authoritarian regime attempting to suppress its opposition by tarring them with the brush of receiving foreign funding. In fact Russian dictator Vladimir Putin recently passed a similar law in Russia to limit the ability of Russian NGOs to receive foreign funds and which subjects Russian NGOs who receive foreign funds to additional harassment.
The ‘ruling’ in this show trial has unfortunate consequences for the people involved. 5 foreigners, including Robert Becker, an American who chose to remain in Egypt, received a two year prison sentence. Eleven Egyptians received a 1 year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 1,000 EGP.
And one other notable fact is in evidence here. Once again the Obama Administration has chosen to side with the forces of repression and authoritarianism in Egypt against the forces of secular democracy. Dr. H.A. Hellyer notes in his outstanding piece on the trial that the National Democratic Institute for which Mr. Robert Becker worked fired him for choosing to stay in Egypt. Thus, his American employers chose to punish him for making the courageous decision to stand with his Egyptian colleagues and not abandon them in their time of need. Becker’s act of human solidarity cost him his job.
In addition, Dr. Hellyer notes,”The U.S. Embassy in Egypt refused to meet with him since this all started.” By refusing to meet with Becker, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt sent the Egyptian regime the message that they condone its campaign against Egyptian NGOs. Sadly, they do not even care about the safety of an American citizen who has chosen to act in accordance with his conscience and to stand up for his principles. Becker now faces two years in an Egyptian prison during which he can count on not receiving a single visit from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. I highly encourage my readers to read Becker’s blog and learn about this courageous freedom activist.
The U.S. Embassy’s shameful abandonment of Mr. Becker is another ugly reminder that the Obama Administration supports the forces of radical Islam and militarist repression in Egypt. Thus, secular Egyptian dissidents know they cannot count on American support as they wage an incredibly difficult struggle against radical Islam in their homeland. Clearly an Administration which does not care about the fate of an American democratic activist in Cairo will not lift a finger in defense of Egyptian dissidents.