U.S. media is reporting that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is supporting the Egyptian military’s investigation into two American NGO’s operating in Egypt. According to a GlobalPost report:
CAIRO, Egypt — Leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which recently secured a majority in parliament, say they support the military’s high-profile investigation into two American nonprofit groups operating in Egypt, citing concerns that such groups could be bringing the country more harm than good. That support, however, has disappointed rights advocates. They view the investigations as an affront to civil society, and were counting on the recently-elected lawmakers to use their new legislative power as a counter-balance to the country’s military leadership. Several Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) officials, including Supreme Committee members and current lawmakers, expressed their support this week for the probes launched by the general prosecutor’s office into unregistered, foreign-funded organizations, which earlier led police to raid their offices and the government to impose travel bans for at least seven Americans. FJP leaders, now in the early stages of governance, also said they agree largely with the “NGO law,” under which the investigations are being conducted, throwing their weight behind a regulation forged by ousted President Hosni Mubarak that activists call draconian. The law requires nonprofit groups to register with the ministry of social solidarity, exposing them to monitoring by domestic intelligence agencies. “If the travel ban is based on the law to ensure the employees [of these organizations]were not working on harming this country, then I support it,” said Dr. Adel Abdel Menem Ahmed, a member of the FJP’s Supreme Committee in the farming region of Beni Suef, a three-hour drive from the capital, Cairo. “It is our country’s right to know what these organizations are doing, and the NGO law is important for the country’s security,” he said. The US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), and a smattering of local rights NGOs cataloguing regime abuses are accused — though not yet officially — of using foreign funds for activities that “harm the nation.” Government officials said that democracy-promotion exercises prompt activists, now leading a revival in anti-regime protests, to sow chaos in the streets. “I agree with an investigation under the law, and I support the NGO law in order to know from where these funds are coming, and whether or not they are used to harm the country,” said Mahmoud Helmy, an FJP member of parliament from the southern province of Assiut. Rights groups here have long rejected the law, saying it cripples civil society and have called for a complete overhaul of the legislation. Karim Medhat Ennarah, a security sector researcher at the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), described the law as “extremely repressive.” The conservative position of the Brotherhood and its politicians lends credence to recent charges from liberal quarters that despite painting themselves as revolutionaries opposed to the policies of Mubarak and his cronies, the Islamists are just as interested in maintaining the status quo by weakening the more radical, anti-military opposition, and by boosting their own stature.
Read the rest here.
In April 2011, a previous post reported that WikiLeak cables had shown that the U.S. State Department secretly financed Syrian opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV station whose news director may have a brother with ties to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.