This post originally appeared at The Christian Science Monitor. In a case that has become an international drama, the trial of 16 Americans and 27 other democracy workers opened today in a rowdy courtroom in Egypt.
The workers are charged with operating nongovernmental organisations without a licence and receiving foreign funding illegally. US lawmakers call the case a politically motivated crackdown on rights and democracy groups in Egypt and have threatened to cut off US aid to Egypt – about $1.5 billion annually – if it continues.
But to much of the Egyptian public, it is a sensational case of foreign governments using these organisations to destabilize and control Egypt. State media has whipped up such nationalist sentiments, distracting some Egyptians from the slow pace of the regime’s democratic reforms and directing anger outward.
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