The intention of Egypt’s military government to introduce democratic reform in the country has been questioned after the son of a US cabinet minister was prevented from leaving the country recently. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood’s son Sam was stopped in Cairo and told that he would not be getting onto his plane.
Mr LaHood works for the International Republican Institute, a non-profit organisation funded by the US which encourages democratic governance. The Egyptian authorities have recently carried out raids on a number of similar organisations. The government is currently investigating the funding of human rights organisations after it declared that there would be no tolerance of any foreign institution intent on interfering with the country’s affairs.
At the end of last year a number of raids resulted in organisations having computers and documents confiscated by Egyptian officials.
Mr LaHood said that he had asked the official who informed him that he would not be flying out of the country why he was being detained. She apparently said that she did not know. Mr LaHood was allowed to hold on to his passport and told that he could leave the airport. He said that the issue was not just about his organisation because around 300 others were also being investigated.
US human rights official, Michael Posner, said that the situation was worrying for those who believed that the Egyptian authorities were working on a transition to democracy after last year’s uprising which saw the regime of Hosni Mubarak toppled.