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Why Cairo Believes Obama's Democracy Support is Nothing More than Empty Words
June 3, 2010
Huffington Post, by Sherif Mansour
One year ago, President Obama addressed the Muslim world in a speech in Cairo, in which he professed his commitment to democracy and human rights as well as respectful engagement. Activists across the region, who have faced enormous obstacles in their work and in many cases threats to their lives, cautiously celebrated the historic speech and Muslims around the world hoped the president's message of change could spread to their own countries. One year later, observers in the Middle East region note that changes have occurred, though not in the way they had expected.
Americans are fond of saying that actions speak louder than words. Over the past year in Egypt, the actions of the Obama Administration have drowned out their words. Shortly after the speech last June, USAID, the primary funder of US democracy efforts, announced that it would no longer provide money to Egyptian civil society groups who were not registered with the government, essentially giving Mubarak and his regime veto power over U.S. support for civil society (since many groups are denied registration if the government does not like their message). Furthermore, the Administration re-opened discussions with the Egyptian Government to establish a U.S.-Egyptian Endowment which would funnel all American economic assistance for Egypt into a fund, outside of the annual Congressional approval process, and strip any ties to democracy and human rights protection. Read more.
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