Boston Herald: The U.S. Shouldn’t Give Money to a Government that Threatens and Bullies Decent, Honest and Idealistic Workers
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to turn out. In the warm glow of the Arab Spring, democracy was in the air and spirits were high on the streets of Cairo.
Today rioters are protesting what they believe is a pattern of police neglect — a charge prompted by the deaths of 74 in a soccer riot last week. The latest protest claimed a dozen more lives over the weekend.
And now the Egyptian government has turned its sights on some of the non-governmental organizations that have come there to help with the kind of democracy building that was the very object of that Arab Spring.
More than 40 NGO workers, including at least six Americans, are expected to face criminal charges for working for an “unregistered” organization and distributing foreign funds illegally.
The organizations include the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group with ties to the Republican Party, and the National Democratic Institute, a similar group with Democratic Party ties, both of which have been involved in training new Egyptian politicians in campaign skills and public relations.
Both have said they attempted to register, but government officials have repeatedly ignored their applications. It’s a rather old technique, previously perfected by Russia to intimidate and chase out of the country many of the mostly young workers who have come to help open up the political process.
Now the controversy has escalated with at least six of those workers, including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (see column on opposing page), forbidden to leave. Sam LaHood and at least two others have taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned the Egyptian government that its $1.3 billion military aid package could be at stake. It’s not an idle threat. We ought not to be giving money to a government that threatens and bullies decent, honest and idealistic workers.