Nancy Okail Discusses Egypt's NGO Crackdown
Nancy Okail, director of Freedom House’s Egypt office in Cairo, is one of dozens of activists being prosecuted by the Egyptian authorities as part of a crackdown on independent civil society groups in the country. She previously worked for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, serving under the same minister—Fayza Aboul Naga—who has played a prominent role in the current campaign against nongovernmental organizations.
In the following interview, Okail discusses the case and its implications for Egypt’s ongoing political transition.
Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to Capitol Hill this week to defend the administration's funding and policy priorities for the next year, which should make for some interesting discussion given the variety of serious issues facing U.S. policymakers. The fiscal year (FY) 2013 State and Foreign Operations Budget, which includes the State Department, USAID, and support for international organizations, was released on February 13 as part of the complete budget request, though full details on many programs will not be made public until next month. As Secretary Clinton appears before the House and Senate foreign relations and appropriations committees, Freedom House would like to see a robust exploration of the administration's foreign policy goals, including its plans to support human rights and democratic development.
The offices of Freedom House, along with those of 10 other organizations, were raided and closed by Egyptian police on December 29th. Since then, the assault on Egyptian civil society has intensified, and pressure on U.S. democracy organizations in Egypt has grown. In an attempt to justify its actions, the Egyptian government has engaged in an aggressive campaign of misinformation about what is taking place. In response, we offer the following fact sheet.
In an op-ed published in the New York Times last April, we took a cautiously optimistic view on the possibility of a breakthrough for media freedom in post-Mubarak Egypt. We argued that if state-controlled media, especially television, underwent serious reform, it would tip the balance toward an open information landscape, particularly when combined with the revolution in online social media in the country.
Now, one year since the January 25, 2011, onset of the uprising in Egypt, we are far more cautious than optimistic.