Egypt Independent

Unsubstantiated rumors distract from real issues



Few issues these days are discussed solely for the public’s best interest, absent of personal agendas and without political and professional disappointment. We never end up knowing the good guys from the bad ones or who is right and who is wrong. Once again, the issue of foreign funding and support has been brought to the forefront, but there have been many lies and fallacies, as cheap accusations with little objective dialogue led to the creation of a law regulating foreign funding to NGOs.

The public has been bombarded by the authorities with rumors that Qatar is funding some Islamic movements while America funds some liberal organizations. Meanwhile, no credible evidence has been produced against any individual or organization.

It appears that Mubarak-era failures continue to plague us, for there has been no change in the dimwitted method of spreading rumors. We need to develop strict regulations in order to control foreign funding in Egypt, because if a foreign country is funding a political organization then we can expect to end up with a president who is funded by American or Gulf state money. We must not underestimate such a possibility or base our information on rumors and fabricated reports. Perhaps the WikiLeaks documents concerning correspondence between the US Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates the magnitude of the problem we are facing, as well as the fabrications some parties tried to bury us in.

A dubious site published a report accusing 25 public figures and human rights activists of receiving American support and financing. The Al-Wafd online newspaper unfortunately republished the report which can be found here:  http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08CAIRO941

As well as documents:

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09CAIRO1532.html

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09CAIRO325.html

and

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09CAIRO1140.html

In these WikiLeaks documents, we discover that in August 2007, the writer of the Al-Wafd article, Hesham al-Bastawisi, and a number of public figures attended a dinner outside the US Embassy in the presence of a number of US diplomats. The writer, however, decided to fabricate two additional pieces of news, the first being that the intention of this meeting was foreign funding, and the second being that it was held with former US Ambassador Margaret Scobey.

With respect to the first bit of false news, I have never received any funding from the US during any period of my research and academic career, let alone politically, during which I have always demanded the criminalization of any political funding, whatever its source. As for the second bit of fabricated news concerning my meeting with Scobey, unfortunately for the author of the false story, I never met Scobey in my life, despite my conviction that any researcher, writer or even politician should engage with the whole world, including ambassadors and diplomats.

Instead of engaging in serious dialogue over how to deal with political funding and how to save Egypt from the possibility of foreign funding entering the political arena, we debate whether or not it is right to shake hands with the US ambassador, if the Wafd Party chairman’s reception, attended by dozens of European and American politicians, was acceptable, and if the heads of the Freedom and Justice Party should have received US Senator John Kerry. All these discussions are cheap accusations that steer us further away from holding any serious dialogue on the issue of foreign funding and the risks of political financing.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm