Egypt's largest political party has sided with the ruling regime in a dispute over American workers facing criminal charges for their work with non-governmental organizations.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a longtime opposition party whose Freedom and Justice party won a plurality of seats in Egypt's newly elected parliament, exhorted officials to stand firm in their effort to bring to trial Americans working for pro-democracy NGOs in Egypt. The United States has threatened to withhold more than $1 billion in aid to Egypt's military if the government does not relent.
Egyptians will not tolerate any officials who decide to succumb to pressure and to cover up the accusations or interfere in the work of the judiciary, the Muslim Brotherhood wrote in a statement emailed to Bloomberg.
Charged With Attempting to Undermine Egypt's Democracy
The non-governmental organizations are accused of illegally obtaining foreign financing. The Egyptian government minister leading the investigation has charged they are attempting to undermine Egypt's fledgling democracy and co-opt its revolution, a claim that has been amplified through state run media. The Muslim Brotherhood echoed that accusation, saying that U.S. aid was partially being spent to destroy Egypt and ruin its society.
While many Egyptians have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of being too eager to accomodate Egypt's ruling military council, the Brotherhood has nevertheless emerged as one of political entities most capable of challenging the military government's hold on power. The United States had begun to abandon its aversion to engaging with the Brotherhood, an acknowledgment of the role it is likely to play in a reshaped Egypt.
But the standoff over non-governmental workers has illuminated the Obama administration's dwindling options for projecting influence in Egypt. A prominent preacher affiliated with the ultraconservatives Salafist movement, whose political party also scored big in parliamentary elections, said that American aid was no longer necessary.
If America wants to cut military aid, very well. Egypt isn't less than Iran which is self-dependent when it comes to producing its own military equipment, Mohamed Hassan told the television channel El-Nahar. The Egyptian people will not be broken anymore.