U.S. Congressmen Send Morsi Letter on NGO Law
Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat on the committee, wrote a letter to President Mohamed Morsi on Friday expressing serious concern regarding a draft NGO law currently being considered by the Egyptian government. They stated that “independent civil society organizations are integral to the creation and maintenance of vibrant and strong democratic systems.” The congressmen also said the law would “codify some of the historically unjust practices” of the Mubarak regime and urged Morsi to revise the law to protect freedoms of assembly, expression, association, and religion. However, Egypt’s Shura Council met on Monday to discuss the law and deemed it constitutional. Mohamed al-Demerdash, adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs, stated that the current draft of the law conforms with Article 51 of the Constitution, which governs formation of NGOs.
Amnesty International also commented on the draft law, calling it “a new low for freedom of association.” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “It is a disturbing indicator of what may lie ahead for human rights groups in the government’s new law.”