Tension swells as Egyptian police raid NGO offices

Army wants to keep its power and privileges so it continues to detain and torture protesters

Egyptian police and justice officials have raided the offices of 17 non-governmental organisations all over the country in what appears to be part of an escalating campaign by the military government to crush groups involved in the pro-democracy movement. Two prominent American pressure groups were among those targeted in the raids.

Police prevented members of the NGOs from leaving their offices during the searches and security agents confiscated documents and computers. The Egyptian public prosecutor said that “17 civil society organisations, local and foreign” were under investigation for being funded from abroad. At least one of the foreign NGOs is accused of operating without a permit.

The raids, some supported by military units in the street outside the offices being searched, is a further sign of the deteriorating relations between the military government and the protesters. The authorities have also been intent on putting the blame for lack of security and economic decline on those wanting to change the system.

The suggestion that civil rights and pro-democracy groups are tainted by receiving funds from abroad will be seen as hypocritical by critics of the military government since the Egyptian army receives $1.5 billion a year from the US. Many of its senior officers have been trained in the US and President Hosni Mubarak was notoriously compliant to US wishes in the Middle East over three decades.

During the last days of Mr Mubarak, organisations like Human Rights Watch were harassed and their workers detained. Security forces throughout the Middle East have always suspected that foreign NGOs claiming to spread democracy are in practice covertly acting on instructions from their home governments. A further motive of the high-profile searches yesterday is probably to imply that Egyptian NGOS have unpatriotic motives.

Among foreign NGOs raided are the local offices of two American organisations, the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute. "Security forces who said they were from the public prosecutor are raiding our offices as we speak,” one employee of latter group told a news agency. “They are grabbing all the papers and laptops as well."

Foreign NGOs often provide training for local groups involved in elections.

Some Egyptian NGOs have played a leading role in protests demanding the army relinquish power, something that it has been promising to do since the overthrow of Mr Mubarak in February. But the army withdrew its support from Mr Mubarak at that time ostensibly in order to keep its power and privileges and it is now reluctant to step aside or see its authority diluted. It has continued to arrest and torture its critics.

Clashes between protesters and soldiers in Cairo earlier this month left 17 people dead. The army has also taken every opportunity to suggest that the protest movement is orchestrated by foreign powers.

In a further sign of the state trying to stifle political change, a court in Cairo has acquitted five policemen of charges of killing five protesters and wounding six others during the 18-day uprising that toppled the Mubarak regime. Some 800 protesters were killed between 25 January and 11 February when Mr Mubarak was ousted.

The court said three of the defendants were not at the site of the killings while the two others fired against protesters in self-defence. The acquittals are likely to further poison relations between the army and the reform movement.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Implementation Engineer

£150 - £200 per day: Orgtel: Implementation Engineer Hampshire / London (Gre...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Pharmacuetical

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Real Staffing, one of the UK'...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform