Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Egypt’s Crackdown on the Human Rights Community
Egypt’s Crackdown on the Human Rights Community

Egypt’s Crackdown on the Human Rights Community

Egypt grunge flag

An investigative judge abruptly froze the assets of the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies (AITAS) on June 15. The judge also froze the personal assets of its director, Ahmed Samih, and set in motion the process to place a judicial official in charge of the Institute’s assets and funds, in effect freezing its operations.[1] The judge acted before the Institute knew the exact charges against it, before its defense attorneys could examine the file, and long before any trial would begin.

The order sent shivers through Egypt’s beleaguered human rights community. Non-governmental organizations have endured severe restrictions ever since the military seized power in 1952, but there have been periods when they could articulate critical views, empower citizens, and even influence government policies. At the time of the revolution in January 2011, which overthrew the thirty-year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, there was tremendous excitement and hope for a democratic transformation. But eighteen months of military rule were followed by the dysfunctional year under democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi. In July 2013, a mixed military-civilian regime took over, which claimed to want to reset the revolution. Instead, defense minister – and then president – Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi cracked down, not only on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood but also on independent voices. He stifled the media and cultural voices, arrested thousands of secular as well as Islamist dissidents, and tightened the noose around the necks of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The powerful military and security systems articulate their hostility to NGOs not only on the grounds that they disrupt unity and cause chaos, but also on the grounds that they enable foreign powers to interfere in Egypt’s domestic politics. They even claim that NGOs deliberately implement the agendas of hostile powers that seek to weaken – and ultimately destroy – Egypt. And most members of the recently elected parliament endorse those claims, with some MPs going as far as calling for a ban on all external funding for civil society and charitable organizations.

This essay addresses the unprecedented crackdown against advocacy organizations – a crackdown that could permanently silence voices who seek to foster an Egyptian polity based on the rule of law and respect for citizens’ rights. The government employs judicial investigations and selective arrests as key ways to frighten and close these organizations, employing a cat-and-mouse mode of attack that keeps the ‘mouse’ off-guard and on the defensive.  

The Andalus Institute is the first to have its assets seized. For a dozen years, its staff have promoted intercommunal and interreligious cooperation, held programs to educate young teenagers and university students about human rights, organized Muslim-Christian round-tables, and trained young people to monitor parliamentary elections. For example, empowered by the January 2011 revolution, the Andalus Institute and the United Group law firm campaigned in many villages to encourage people to participate in parliamentary elections. Its registration as a non-profit company allowed it to contract with foreign organizations and so it accepted financing from USAID’s post-revolution grants program that was designed to strengthen civil society. Later, state security cited this funding as part of the evidence of the Institute’s hostile intentions.

But the Andalus Institute isn’t the only human rights organization under attack. Even more prominent and internationally known groups are at risk. For example, investigating judges are currently deciding whether to freeze the assets of four other associations and their staffs:

  • The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and its executive director, Gamal Eid, as well as Eid’s wife and eleven-year-old daughter. Registered as a limited liability company in 2007, ANHRI provides legal briefs, observes trials, publishes guides to human rights law, and issues annual reports on human rights in the Arab world. Even before the asset-freeze threat, security officers threatened to inspect its premises. They also prevented Eid from traveling abroad on February 4.[2]
  • The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), its founder Bahey al-Din Hassan, his wife, their daughter, and two CIHRS staff. In addition, Cairo office director Mohamed Zare’ was stopped at the airport on May 26 on his way to a workshop in Tunis and alerted that he was under judicial investigation.[3] CIHRS, founded in 1993, plays a leading role in researching human rights concerns throughout the Arab world and frequently addresses the European Parliament and the United Nations. Fearing closure, CIHRS transferred its main operations to Tunis in December 2014, and Hassan remained outside Egypt.[4] Since then, an investigating judge ordered the inspection of its Cairo office on June 9, 2015,[5] but CIHRS heard nothing more until the court hearing in March revealed the request to freeze those assets.[6] 
  • The Egyptian Center for the Right to Education (ECRE) and its director Abd al-Hafiz Tayel. ECRE sharply criticizes shortcomings in the educational system, such as the severe shortage of elementary schools and the plan to charge tuition for university studies. Ironically, ECRE is charged with using foreign funding “to thwart state efforts in education.”[7]
  • The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and its founder, Hossam Bahgat. Bahgat established EIPR in 2002 as a limited-liability, for-profit company that pays income tax and social security. EIPR is at the forefront of advocacy for freedom of expression, religion, and gender. Under severe pressure, Bahgat spent the academic year 2014-2015 at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Upon his return, although no longer director of EIPR, he was briefly detained after he reported on the secret military trial of military officers who plotted against President El-Sisi. Bahgat was charged with publishing false news aimed at harming national security.[8] Only when security blocked him from flying to Amman this past February to attend a UN meeting did he discover the investigation against EIPR and the threat to seize his as well as EIPR’s assets.[9]
  • The Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) and its former manager Mostafa El-Hassan.[10] Registered as a law firm in 1999, HMLC pioneered litigation on behalf of political prisoners and workers. HMLC staff knew they were under investigation when their office files were examined in July 2015, but only learned of the asset-freeze threat this past April.

So far, these are the organizations publicly threatened with asset seizure, but they are not the only human rights groups caught in the state security dragnet.

Since February, the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture has confronted a non-stop effort to seize its premises. The center has operated a clinic, registered with the Health Ministry, for more than twenty years. It provides psychological counseling to traumatized women, refugees, and former detainees. Its informational arm, registered as a company, publicizes police torture programs, human rights violations, and systematic sexual harassment. The order to close the center came from “the highest authority which encompasses all other ministries,”[11] undoubtedly meaning the presidency.

Security twice raided offices of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), founded in 2010 by lawyer Khaled Ali, who ran for president in 2012. Each time, heavily armed security forces confronted the staff and volunteers and confiscated computers. The first raid, just before midnight on December 18, 2013, occurred while staff were finalizing a documentary film on labor protests, which they planned to screen at a press conference the next day.[12] On May 22, 2014, ECESR was raided while holding a press conference in support of an imprisoned lawyer.[13]

This past May, in the midst of protests over the government’s allowing Saudi Arabia to resume control over two islands in the Gulf of Aqaba that had been administered by Egypt for more than sixty years, security arrested ECESR’s legal director Malek Adly. He was charged with inciting the overthrow of the government because he filed a lawsuit to block that transfer, a lawsuit that the Administrative Court upheld on June 21. Adly is reportedly being detained in solitary confinement, held in an unlit cell without a bed or even a mattress.[14]

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), a registered NGO, has also suffered arrests and travel bans. Executive Director Mohamed Lotfy was invited to address the German parliament on Egypt’s human rights situation – just before President El-Sisi’s visit to Berlin. But Lotfy was stopped at Cairo airport on June 1, 2015, an act that sent an (unintentionally) powerful message to Germany on the status of political freedoms in Egypt.[15]

Nearly a year later, ECRF board member Ahmed Abdallah was seized from his home during the night of April 24/25, during a sweeping crackdown on public protests.[16] Abdallah was a legal advisor to the family of Guilio Regeni, the Italian student abducted on January 25, whose tortured body was found on February 3. ECRF is at the forefront of calls to end enforced disappearances; Abdallah himself was nearly abducted from a coffee shop in early January.[17] Soon after his arrest, heavily-armed plainclothes security personnel seized ECRF researcher Mina Thabet at 3 a.m. from his home. The 26-year-old Thabet, a specialist on the Coptic community, was released on bail after a month’s detention, but still faces charges under Egypt’s anti-terrorism law.[18]

The Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA), established in 2009 to spread the values of democracy, human rights, and political participation, was careful to make sure that its NGO registration and bank account were approved by MOSS in November 2014. Nonetheless, only weeks later, security forces stormed its premises and blocked senior officers from traveling abroad.[19] As in many other cases, the travel ban was the first signal that investigative judges were preparing to file criminal charges.

There are many more examples. Negad El Borai, a former member of the government’s National Council on Human Rights (NCHR) and head of the legal department of the United Group – a law firm founded in 1943 – was summoned five times between June 2015 and June 2016 for questioning about “establishing an unlicensed entity, receiving illegal funds, and deliberately spreading false information for the purpose of harming public order or public interest.” In the upcoming sixth session he will finally be able to present documents for the defense. Oddly, one of the charges involves his drafting a bill to ban torture, which he developed in consultation with distinguished judges in order to ensure that Egyptian law conforms to its new constitution and to international legal covenants.[20] He convened a workshop on March 11, 2015, to finalize the text, and submitted it to President El-Sisi on May 6, 2015. Not long afterwards, the Supreme Judicial Council launched an investigation against Borai and the judges. An effort intended to encourage the government to bolster the rule of law was instead labeled a threat to national security and to the ‘public’ interest.

Mozn Hassan, executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, was not only questioned by investigators but prevented from flying to Beirut on June 27 to make a presentation to the executive committee of Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRDIC), thereby confirming the importance of WHRDIC’s mission to protect women who seek to uphold human rights.[21] Similarly, Hoda Abd al-Wahab, executive director of the law firm the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP), discovered that the prosecutor general had ordered her banned from travel when she was stopped at the Cairo airport a week earlier, on June 21. 

What is Going On?

The fierce crackdown takes place in the context of the long-standing government effort to keep civil society under tight control. It also derives from the security state’s determination to cancel the freedoms asserted in January 2011 and take revenge against that uprising of hope.

Law 84 (2002) still serves as the basis for the establishment and operation of non-governmental organizations. Under that law, the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MOSS) approves the formation of an NGO, agrees to its board of directors and the procedures of its executive committee and annual meetings, and monitors all its fundraising and record keeping.[22] MOSS can dissolve the NGO by administrative order for technical violations or receiving funds from foreign organizations without prior permission. Failure to register results in up to six months’ jail.

Until November 2014, organizations whose NGO registration was blocked by the Ministry of Interior found creative ways around that law. They registered as law firms, civil companies, or medical clinics, as appropriate, thereby coming under legal regimes outside MOSS’s control – regimes that allowed them considerable freedom of operation, including the right to contract with external agencies.

However, in the summer of 2014 MOSS minister Ghada Wali decreed that those organizations must register under Law 84 (2002) by November 10, 2014, or be prosecuted and closed.[23] She declared that the government would then seize their assets, as MOSS had done with the banned Muslim Brotherhood’s charities, clinics and schools. A few organizations – such as EDA – obeyed that dictum, but others challenged it, arguing that their status as law firms, companies or clinics was perfectly legal. Moreover, they pointed out that Article 75 of the new constitution, promulgated in January 2014, states that NGOs are founded merely by notifying MOSS, “practice their activities freely,” and are only dissolved “by a court judgment.” The constitution states that “administrative agencies may not interfere in their affairs.”[24] Thus, Law 84 (2002) was invalid and should not be enforced. An entirely new NGO law needed to be written.

With this sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, some directors (such as EIPR’s Hossam Bahgat and CIHRS’ Bahey el-Din Hassan) moved abroad, at least temporarily. During December 2014, the minister of justice requested the court of appeal to appoint a panel of three investigating judges. Those judges appointed a MOSS technical committee to determine which organizations operate along the lines of civil associations but are not registered under Law 84, and to examine their documents, particularly focusing on sources of funding.

By then the overall crackdown on civil liberties had become intense. Nearly all protests were banned by Law 107 (2013) and, as of October 2014, anyone who demonstrated outside a civilian government building – such as a university, ministry or factory – could be hauled before the military judiciary, whose courts lack even minimal due process.[25] The Penal Code was amended to increase the penalty for receiving foreign funding without government approval: a life sentence if the funds “harm national security” or “destabilize general peace” and undermine “unity”, and a death sentence if the crime is committed “at wartime or for the purpose of terrorism”[26].

In February 2015, El-Sisi expanded the definition of “terrorist entities” to encompass groups that “intend to advocate by any means to…harm national unity” – dangerously vague wording.[27] He ordered the prosecutor general to list all such groups. Next, the Court of Appeals would vet the list and bar them, freeze their assets, and arrest members. Meanwhile, the president muzzled the press by forbidding journalists from writing or making statements that contradict the official version of military or police actions. ANHRI’s Gamal Eid declared that journalism would become “Goebbels’ media.”[28] These decrees could also be used to stifle advocacy organizations. 

Reverberations from SCAF’s Attacks on Foreign Funding

The crackdown not only reflects the security state’s long-term hostility to an unfettered civil society and to the free expression of critical viewpoints, but also reflects specific developments when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ruled directly, from February 2011 to July 2012. Although the generals welcomed the overthrow of Mubarak, they quickly clashed with the liberty-seeking protesters. Their fear of foreign support for democratization was fostered by the powerful minister of international cooperation (MIC), Fayza Aboul Naga, who had held that post since 2001. She wanted all foreign aid to go through government agencies, under her supervision. When Law 84 (2002) was drafted, she made sure that MIC and MOSS could starve NGOs of operating and project funds.

Aboul Naga was furious when, after the January revolution, USAID’s new transition-support program gave grants directly to nine Egyptian NGOs and seven civil companies.[29] As the NGOs needed MOSS approval, MOSS easily blocked the grants to seven of the nine NGOs. But the companies did not need approval from either MOSS or MIC. Those companies – such as the now-shuttered Andalus Institute – launched programs to educate the public about the benefits of democratization.

Aboul Naga acted quickly. She persuaded the SCAF and the cabinet to order the Ministry of Justice to set up a fact-finding committee to examine foreign funding and determine which organizations were registered under Law 84. The SCAF also ordered the supreme state security prosecution to launch an investigation and compelled banks to provide data on all financial transactions by those organizations. NGOs risked facing emergency state security courts for “grand treason, conspiracy against Egypt, and carrying out foreign agendas to harm Egyptian national security”[30].

The National Security Agency (NSA) and General Intelligence Agency (GIA) gave MOSS a list of more than a hundred suspect organizations. During the fall, they leaked the names of many of these and the amounts they had allegedly received. After the SCAF appointed a new cabinet in December 2011, the new Minister of Justice requested detailed reports on 73 already-registered NGOs that he blamed for the violent protests in November.[31]

At the time, EIPR’s Hossam Bahgat declared that “this is a blatant attempt to restrict human rights organizations that played a role in exposing the authorities’ violations,” and in particular a “vilification campaign”[32] to weaken those who decry torture and criticize trying civilians before military tribunals. Stifling civil society organizations would also make it difficult to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Dramatic raids on the offices of five international organizations – notably the National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), and Freedom House – on December 29, 2011, received the most attention at that time.[33] But armed military and police officers raided two Egyptian organizations the same day, seized their files and computers, and sealed shut their offices. The Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory (BAHRO) was probably targeted because it called on the armed forces to publish its budget and revealed the SCAF’s financial “violations”.[34] The other organization was more prominent. The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP) was led by Nasser Amin, a member of the government-appointed National Council on Human Rights (NCHR).[35] Although ACIJLP had been registered as a law firm since 1997, the prosecutor general interrogated Amin on charges of establishing a branch of a foreign NGO and receiving foreign funds without permission.

BAHRO and ACIJLP were charged under case 173/2011, as were the international organizations. But they did not face the same judge and they were allowed to resume their operations.[36] Nonetheless, the case was not closed and the threat of state security trials hung over them.

Thus, when the government ordered all independent organizations to register with Law 84 (2002) by November 10, 2014, it had a ready-made list of suspect groups, with detailed security files and documentation of their legal status, finances and tax returns. Moreover, in the same month, the formidable Aboul Naga suddenly reappeared as El-Sisi’s national security advisor.[37] Already allied with the generals and the intelligence and security forces, she ensured that case 173/2011 would be reopened, this time not only focused on the threats to national security from foreign funds but also on the illegality of civil society organizations that were not registered as NGOs.

Aboul Naga was supported by Minister of Justice Ahmed El Zend, deeply hostile to the human rights movement and strongly opposed to all efforts to hold officials to account – even by the official auditing agencies.[38] On January 28, 2016, Zend stated on TV that he had reopened Case 173/2011 and would soon launch the prosecutions.[39] The request to freeze EIPR and ANHRI’s assets came five days later, on February 2.

The Cat-and-Mouse Game

The government continues its cat-and-mouse game. As noted earlier, suspects discover that they are under active investigation when they are stopped at the airport, threatened with asset-seizure, have their office inspected (or raided), or simply read about the charges in the press. Thus, EIPR and ANHRI learned from the newspapers on March 19 about the threat to freeze their assets, and the holding of a court session that same day. The defense lawyers rushed to the court, but missed the hearing. Charged, in EIPR’s case, with using foreign funds to “harm national security, spread instability in Egypt, encourage a state of chaos and a security breakdown, encourage rifts within Egyptian society and the failure of the Egyptian regime,”[40] they could face life imprisonment under the Penal Code. Similar threats hang over the heads of the other organizations. As the judge issued a gag order to prevent the media from covering these cases, even attempting to rally support could result in additional penalties.

What happens next? There are court rulings and constitutional provisions that should put breaks on the closure efforts and raise questions about current legal procedures. For example:

  • On April 19, the Administrative Court ruled that NGOs have the right to receive foreign funding as long as MOSS doesn’t deem the NGO a harm to “general peace and security” or have a “negative affect on public morality.”[41] It also ruled that MOSS has a duty to respond quickly to funding requests. If this ruling is upheld on appeal, how will it impact cases against registered NGOs?
  • The Administrative Court ruled on June 21 that Egypt’s transfer of the two islands to Saudi Arabia was illegal. Will this be upheld on appeal? If so, the cases against Abdallah, Adly and the many people rounded up in April and May should disintegrate. But the odds are that the appeals court will support the government on this diplomatically sensitive issue.
  • Is it legal to retroactively apply Law 84 (2002) to law firms and companies that operated under different laws prior to November 2014? Contracts signed before then should not be judged under the NGO law, as is obviously happening.
  • More broadly, given the wording in Article 75 of the constitution that NGOs are founded merely by notifying MOSS, practice activities freely, cannot be subject to interference by administrative agencies, and can only be dissolved by court judgment, how can the courts continue to enforce Law 84 (2002), as its provisions contradict the constitution?

But who will write an NGO law that conforms to the constitution? Surely not the government. Moreover, after parliament began its sessions in January, it endorsed all of El-Sisi’s security-oriented decrees. It even extended for five more years the decree that places civilian buildings under the jurisdiction of the military, under which nearly 7,500 civilians have stood trial.[42] Proponents argued that military courts ensure quick and firm rulings and completely ignored the constitution’s provision that civilians can only stand trial before military courts if they directly assault military facilities – not civilian sites. Thus, the prospects for a progressive NGO law are almost nonexistent. The chair of the Human Rights Committee is one of the few MPs who support an NGO law based on Article 75.[43] The most vocal MPs endorse tight control over NGOs and oppose foreign funding, arguing that traitor NGOs seek foreign funds in order to destroy Egypt.[44]

Meanwhile, the investigating judges keep civil society organizations in unbearable suspense. September 17, for example, is supposed to be the date for the court’s “final” ruling on ANHRI and EIPR, but it’s also the first hearing in which defense lawyers can present their case. This makes a mockery of the judicial process.

Will Civil Society Be Silenced?

The directors and staff of advocacy organizations live in constant fear of arrest. Many fear publishing reports that they have researched and finalized. Organizations have shrunk in size and have limited funds to operate. This silencing serves the regime’s purpose as part of its cat-and-mouse strategy, even without finalizing court rulings.

In the words of CIHRS’ Mohamed Zare’: “This is the worst moment for the human rights movement in Egypt. This is their fiercest attack yet. We are not just talking about tightening the grip over civil society, we are talking about wiping it out completely… They think if they close down rights organizations, no one will criticize them internationally… The current regime has no ceiling. It is frightening that you don’t know what they’re capable of.”[45]

January 2011 unleashed a cacophony of voices. In Tahrir Square and the myriad coffee shops throughout the country, Egyptians bubbled with long-repressed ideas, argued vigorously as to how to improve their country, and formed – and re-formed – political movements to articulate their concerns through the first ever freely elected parliamentary and presidential elections. Advocacy NGOs played important supporting roles in these efforts. They encouraged political participation, helped explain how to run for election and how to vote, and mobilized poll watchers to ensure fair results. They helped women, workers, farmers, and many other constituencies come together around concrete projects to improve their lives. They spoke up against arbitrary arrests, torture, and military court trials.

This effervescence was deeply unsettling to the security system. First under the SCAF and then under El-Sisi, the military and security forces reasserted their power, backed by elites who were momentarily weakened by the revolutionary upheaval. El-Sisi has reasserted the authoritarian system in which the president rules supreme. Indeed, he admonishes government officials and members of parliament to only speak when he gives permission, and cries out to the public: “Don’t listen to anyone but me!”[46]  

In this environment, there is no space for autonomous voices – whether intellectual, labor, cultural, religious or social. Silencing organized advocates of human rights and rule of law is essential to the success of El-Sisi’s efforts, although ultimately very dangerous for Egypt’s survival. 


[1] “Egypt: Court order to freeze assets of Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies and its director Ahmed Samih,” Urgent Appeal, Frontline Defenders, June 17, 2016. AITAS also partnered with other US democracy-promoting organizations and with European institutions, such as the Goethe Institute (Germany) and the Anna Lindh Foundation (Sweden).;

[2];;, February 4, 2016; “Egypt court freezes assets of four rights activists in 2011 illegal funding case,” March 17, 2016,

[3] “Egypt rights activist says banned from travel,”

[4] “Egyptian rights group partially relocates abroad amid ‘constant threats’ against civil society,”

[5] Staff had to present documentation on its registration, founding contact and statute, budgets, financial accounts, funding contacts for the past four years. “Egypt govt takes ‘revenge’ on us,” June 11, 2015,

[6] March 17, 2016,

[7], August 15, 2015.

[8] David D. Kirkpatrick, “Hossam Bahgat, Journalist and Advocate, Is Released by Egypt’s Military,” The New York Times, November 11, 2015.


[10], August 15, 2015. His defense lawyer pointed out that Hassan cashed HMLC checks at the bank as part of his job. She submitted proof that he no longer works there. “More Egyptian NGOs, activists to be investigated in foreign funding case,” April 20, 2016,

[11], February 21, 2016.


[13] “ECESR Raided… Again!”

[14] “Egyptian rights lawyer Malek Adly detained for another 15 days,” July 31, 2016,

[15] “Egypt: Executive Director of ECRF Mohamed Lotfy Banned from Travelling,” ANHRI, June 2, 2015,

[16] Abdallah is charged with incitement to demonstrate, using force to attack police stations and overthrow the government, preventing the president from performing his duties, joining a terrorist group, and using a website to promote calls for terrorism and provide misleading information. Abdallah had been a member of the pro-workers’ rights April 6 Movement, which the government has declared a terrorist organization. Amnesty reproduced Mohamed Lotfy (executive director, ECRF)’s January 22, 2016, blog, updated on April 18, 2016:;


[18] As with Abdallah, charges include “inciting youth to use force to overthrow the government,” “inciting terrorist attacks on police stations,” threats of violence to prevent the president from performing his duties, use of the internet to incite terrorist acts, spreading false information about Egypt to disrupt public order and damage national prestige, possessing documents to incite people to overthrow government and change the constitution, and being a member of a terrorist or banned group. “Egypt rights campaigner Mina Thabet to be released as court rejects prosecution’s appeal,” June 20, 2016,

[19] On December 5, 2014, Board Chair Hossam Eddin Aly was prevented from flying to Morocco and his deputy Ahmed Ghoneim was prevented from flying to Beirut: December 29, 2014, Hossam Eddin was also prevented from flying to Washington, DC, on February 27, 2016, to participate in a US State Department conference on how legislation could be used to combat corruption:

[20] Marwa al-A’sar, “Egyptian lawyer interrogated for drafting anti-torture law,” June 15, 2016,; Heba Saleh, “Egypt escalates crackdown on dissent, The Financial Times, March 11, 2016;

[21];;, June 27, 2016;

[22] “Egypt: Margins of Repression: State Limits on NGOs,” Human Rights Watch, July 3, 2005, 12-13.

[23] “Egypt extends deadline for NGOs to register or face investigation,” August 31, 2014,

[24] Quoted in

[25] As soon as the president decreed Law 136 (2014) in October 2014, 700 cases were shifted (retroactively) from the civilian to the military judiciary.Patrick Kingsley, “Egypt places civilian infrastructure under army jurisdiction,” https://www.theguardian/com/world/2014/0ct/28/egypt-civilian-infrastructure-army-jurisdiction.

[26] September 21, 2014 amendments to Article 78 of the Penal Code. Reem Gehad, “Egypt amends penal code to stipulate harsher punishments on foreign funding.” September 23, 2014,

[27] Italics added. “Egypt’s Sisi signs law defining ‘terrorist entities,’” February 24, 2016,

[28] Patrick Kingsley and Manu Abdo,

[29] Office of the Inspector General, “Audit of USAID/Egypt’s Transition Support Grants,” October 22, 2012; Mohamed Elagati, “Foreign Funding in Egypt After the Revolution,” Foundation for International Relations and Development (Madrid), 2013, 14.

[30] “Egypt’s NGOs face tough post-revolution reality,”; Stephen McInterney,

[31] “Egypt: Justice Minister requests information on civil society groups,” January 3, 2012,

[32] October 17, 2011,

[33] The foreign organizations were charged under case 173/2011 with operating without a license, receiving unauthorized foreign funding, operating as branches of international organizations, violating Egyptian tax codes, and engaging in activities prohibited by law, including “political training programs.” Leila Fadel and Jody Warrick, December 29, 2011, In his verdict on June 4, 2013, the judge declared that “democracy promotion, governance, [and] human rights… [sought] to breach Egypt’s national security. They aimed to undermine and dismantle state institutions,”; Nancy Youssef,

[34] Mohannad Sabry and Jonathan S. Landay, “Egypt crackdown escalates, with raids on 17 groups,” December 29, 2011,


[36] BAHRO continued to produce budget-assessments and ACIJLP remained active, including publishing its annual report on the state of the justice system. “The ACIJLP holds press conference to announce its annual report on 2012, entitled ‘An Attack on Justice in Egypt,’” March 3, 2013,

[37] David D. Kirkpatrick, “Egypt elevates an official hostile to U.S., civil society, The New York Times, November 6, 2014.

[38] Hisham Geneina, a senior judge for 43 years, was appointed chief auditor in September 2012 for a four year term from which the president could not dismiss him. In July 2015, urged on by new Justice Minister Zend, El-Sisi decreed that the president can fire directors of independent regulatory agencies for harming state security or merely losing the president’s confidence. “Presidency acquires power to reshuffle corruption watchdogs,” July 15, 2015, Given this threat, Geneina revealed in December 2015, in a report prepared at the request of the Planning Ministry, that the government had lost $76 billion due to corruption in the four years from 2012 to 2015, with corruption endemic in the ministries of justice and interior. El-Sisi lashed out. He had already appointed former state security prosecutor Hisham Badawi as Geneina’s deputy (and security minder). After the corruption figures were released, he appointed a fact-finding commission to investigate Geneina himself – and placed Badawi and top security and justice ministry officials on that commission. As soon as El-Sisi dismissed Geneina on March 28, state security prosecuted him. He was sentenced in July to one year (suspended) in prison for “disturbing the public peace,” subject to LE 10,000 bail and a LE10,000 fine. Not surprisingly, El-Sisi named Badawi his successor, which ensures that corruption will remain hidden, particularly when it impacts the security arena. Declan Walsh, “Graft Fighter in Egypt Finds Himself a Defendant in Court,”

[39], April 25, 2016.

[40] Ibid.; “Background on Case No. 173- the ‘foreign funding case’ – Imminent Risk of Prosecution and Closure,” In that hearing and later hearings, they learned that the organizations are charged with receiving a combined $1.5 million in foreign funds, including from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which immediately denied that and pointed out that it is not a donor-organization. The prosecution also claimed that Eid received $10,000 and Bahgat $8,000 from 2007 to 2011, with some of the latter possibly being for Bahgat’s independent work as a translator and journalist.  

[41] New Woman Foundation filed the case after MOSS blocked a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The judges ruled that MOSS must respond promptly to NGO requests for funds or else MOSS itself would violate the law. “Egyptian court rules NGOs have right to foreign funding,” April 20, 2016,

[42] “Activists denounce parliament decision to extend military protection of vital facilities,”

[43] Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat, nephew of the late president. “’Protests only lead to political divisions’ says Egypt MP El-Sadat,” April 26, 2016,; Rania Rabeaa Elabd,” Egypt human rights committee head: forced disappearance issue top priority,”

[44] “Foreign-funded NGOs face new attacks from Egypt MPs,” April 4, 2016,

[45] March 24, 2016,

[46] “Permission to speak, sir,” April 23, 2016, www.economist/com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21697280-abdel-fattah-al-sisi-cant-handle-his-growing-army-critics-permission-speak.