Judicial source expects more attacks on NGOs

A judicial source said on Sunday that there are likely to be further attacks on the headquarters of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in receiving foreign funds.

On Friday, Reuters reported that US officials had been assured by Egyptian officials that raids on pro-democracy and human rights groups would be halted, and that property seized would be returned. The assurance came after Washington expressed concern at the Egyptian government's crackdown on NGOs.

On Thursday, Egyptian police raided the offices of 17 NGOs, including several that receive US backing, as part of a probe into foreign funding of civil society groups, which helped drive the protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February. Since the toppling of Mubarak, the same NGOs have been frequent critics of the military's violent response to continued street protests.

The source, who spoke to Al-Masry Al-Youm on condition of anonymity, said the prosecution issued a decision on Sunday to arrest 43 officials from those NGOs that were raided. They are to be questioned about items found at the organizations' offices during raids, which were conducted by police officers, soldiers and staff from the public prosecution.

International criticism from the US and Germany, according to the source, will not affect investigations. Measures taken by Egyptian authorities are 100 percent legal, the source said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Social Solidarity Nagwa Khalil said she will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss foreign funding issues and the role of NGOs in Egyptian society. It is expected that the minister will present recommendations for a draft law to be proposed to parliament.

During February 2011, before Mubarak stepped down, pro-democracy NGOs were raided by police and the army, and many of their employees arrested and interrogated in a move aimed at crushing the revolution.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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