Saturday, February 25, 2006

My dream came to a complete halt

During the past few weeks, I have been deliberating with myself, family and friends on future-related issues. Among them, of course, is in what direction I want to take my career. One of the things that I was deliberating and which I consider also one of my dreams is founding an NGO or a non-profit organization and be part of Egypt non-growing civil society though this might be part of my long term plans. Being a member of the advisory board of a non-profit organization based in D.C. made me even dream more about my dream. I see how this American organization is operating easily without fear or too much bureaucracy.

I took sometime yesterday to study law 153 for NGO in Egypt. I have read so many human rights condemning this law, but I have not got the time to read their criticism on the law. Now I fully realize that the civil society in Egypt is chained and will never be given a chance to grow under this law. And that the only way to be part of the civil society is to be part of a mosque. The only way to operate and serve the Egyptian society with no complexity or governmental control and censorship is working through a mosque. The law treats the NGOs basically as companies. Only businessmen can start NGOs. Nice deal…Not being a typical good Muslim, I do not want to operate through a mosque. If I agreed, I will not be welcomed for not being the way how they want to see Muslim women. I have to be a liar and hyporcite to make them like me.

And to add insult to injury, I had this conversation with one of my ex-students in Cairo who is a friend of mine as well.

Me: I was thinking of founding an NGO in Egypt, and OH MY GOD. I read the law, it is so crippling. I changed my mind immediately. That will have to remain as an unfulfilled dream.
Friend: u r on the wrong playground.
Me: to help the society and help Egypt to have a strong civil society by being part of it? I did lots of volunteer work in Egypt for 2 years before I left to the United States.
Friend: yes, I know
Me: That was based on personal initiatives with other families and friends
Me: Why not put it in an organization form? But now after I have read the law, there is no way. The law is killing. I cannot forget it, it will haunt me forever.
Friend: well, u can make it as a charity
Me: The law includes all NGOs in general
Me: only mosques can operate freely....!!! what a country!
Me: No civil societies, there is no country
Me: Country=people=civil communities
Friend: true, but the case may be different in Egypt
Me: how?
Friend: The organizational frame is not favored here. I mean it is looked on as a western idea.
Me: western?? This is not western. This is a what is know as a COUNTRY not a government-owned country
Friend: I know, but I mean the notion which is spread here, as I said.

End of conversation.

I was extremely disappointed to go on. It is not only the government that is doing its best to stifle the activities of NGOs but the society will regard NGOs as western intruders who are adopting western style societies. May be Sheikhs in mosques are preaching that now. My pressure is so high now that I cannot even continue writing. The dream of founding an NGO to serve the community in Egypt will impose another question on me whether I want to spend the rest of my prime youth years in prison or not because I am sure I will be considered a national threat if I dared to found an NGO! I can never be a better easier target for conspiracy theories especially that recently I live between the US and Egypt.


At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am surprised no one commented on your good piece on the difficulties in setting up NGOs in Egypt. I guess since the law was introducted several years ago (by the former Minister of Social Affairs), it was not new news. I remember the controversy the la aroused at that time. However, as many things happen in Egypt, a lot of loud noise and then dead calm.
My advice is to keep on blogging. Your sharing of opinions is best done through a blog.
Egyptian in Germany

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Freedom for Egyptians said...

I guess it is because it is nobody's dream except me.


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