All non-governmental organisations operating in Egypt have been ordered to register with the government or risk being prosecuted – a move critics say will spell the end of their independence.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government has ordered NGOs to comply with a 2002 law that subjects their activities to scrutiny by Egypt’s security services.
Human rights groups have denounced the move, saying it rolls back on freedoms won in the 2011 uprising that ousted Egypt’s long-time ruler, Hosni Mubarak.
The law empowers the government to inspect the premises of NGOs and dissolve those it deems a threat to national security. It also rules that government must approve all foreign funding.
NGO founders who fail to register face up to six months in jail.
“The main idea of this law is to transform NGOs into government organisations,” says Mohamed Zaree of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
“It’s an attempt to suppress the human rights movement in Egypt, so it has created a climate of fear.”
Some organisations, like The Carter Center, a US-based election watchdog, have already left the country, denouncing the restrictive political climate.
But Ghada Wali, Egypt’s minister of social solidarity, says the rules are necessary, “because we are a country under attack.
“We want to make sure that there is no money laundering, that there is no money going to terrorists, that there is no money going to buy weapons to harm innocent people.”
Click on the player above to watch the full report by Sonia Dridi and Sharif Kouddous.
Executive director, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights