War against Aboutrika

Kareem Raafat
June 30, 2019

After Mohamed Aboutrika, the former player of the national team and Al-Ahly club, expressed his condolences for former President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian media launched a horrendous attack against him. However, in minute 22 (which corresponds with his squad number) of the Egyptian national team’s first match in the Africa Cup of Nations fans chanted his name. The crowd was outraged at the treatment of one of the most iconic figures in Arab football and labelled his treatment as “oppression.” 

Endless prosecution for years 

The Egyptian authorities started chasing Aboutrika in 2015 when the Seizure and Management Committee of Muslim Brotherhood Funds issued a decision to seize his properties and his money. Authorities alleged that security services uncovered that he had shares in a tourism company which was financing the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood. The committee denied two petitions filed by his lawyer.

In 2016, the administrative court acted justly when it issued an enforceable judgment canceling the seizure decision. The judgement mentioned that “the committee decision involved an assault on his property and undermined his constitutional and legal rights.” 

“The committee took its decision without any legal basis as it violated the judiciary authorities in this respect,” the judgment concluded.

The commission refused to execute the judgment. Then, Aboutrika went back to court, demanding the judgement continue, and it was confirmed again by the administrative court in 2017. 

In April 2018, the Supreme Administrative Court decided to suspend the government appeal until the Supreme Constitutional Court determined a competent body to oversee the Seizure and Management Committee of Muslim Brotherhood Funds. 

This was amid the backdrop of a dispute between the judgment issued by the administrative court and the Interim Relief Court about the seizure decision. Thus, the case is still undecided, until now.

In conjunction with the progress of the case, the North Cairo Criminal Court issued a decision listing Mohamed Aboutrika and a further 1,500 people on a terror list in January 2017, for financing the Muslim Brotherhood.

Aboutrika appealed to the Court Of Cassation on this decision. In August 2018, it cancelled the decision commenting that it was a “severe violation.” The court said that a clear explanation had not been given for the decision. 

Aboutrika’s suffering had not finished. In April 2018 the criminal court issued a new decision based on a new case filed by the Seizure and Management Committee of Muslim Brotherhood Funds listing 1,529 people, including Aboutrika, on “terrorist lists.” Aboutrika appealed to the Court Of Cassation on this decision, but the appeal remains undecided until now.

In June 2018 the Public Prosecutor initiated a new case against Aboutrika, accusing him of tax avoidance between 2008 to 2009. He was given an initial sentence of one year and offered bail at EGP 20,000. The case has also not been resolved until now.  

The implications of being listed on the terror list for individuals includes a travel ban, pre-arrival screening lists, confiscation or revocation of passports, preventing a new passport being issued and freezing assets in case they are used for a terrorist act.

Because of this decision he was unable to attend the funeral of his father or receive condolences in Egypt, fearing a travel ban or being arrested.

Character assassination

Over the past few years, the media horns affiliated to the Egyptian authorities, have initiated a campaign distorting Aboutrika’s reputation. In the latest attack against him, Ahmed Mosa – the media person who is well-known for his proximity to security bodies – said that: “Aboutrika is a terrorist under the judgment of the Court Of Cassation” although this is not correct; as I have previously mentioned, the court accepted Aboutrika’s appeal on the first decision that put him on the terrorist list, and the second appeal is still undecided.

On May 7, Karam Gaber, the President of the National Press Organisation, initiated an intensive attack against Aboutrika. “Your pictures with Mohamed Salah won’t beautify your image, and there are many videos on YouTube [in which you] admitted that you are member and supporter to the Brotherhood.” 

“Doesn’t your conscience lament for the martyrs of terror as fluently as it was promoting the Brotherhood?! Stop this mess… It’s the worst form of exploitation, beware of Allah for the sake of martyrs’ souls,” added Gaber.

There are no records of Aboutrika announcing his membership to the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a single video in which he announced his support of voting for Morsi in the 2012 presidential elections, when 13 million people elected Morsi. Besides, Aboutrika expresses his condolences for martyrs in every incident.

Recently, several Facebook pages of regime advocates published a photo of Aboutrika with a woman they alleged was the mother of a terrorist, as evidence for Aboutrika’s support for terrorists and their families. However, the person mentioned was released without a trial. Aboutrika emphasised that he met this woman at his brother’s wedding and he has challenged his critics to prove their allegations.