18, January 2017
Egyptian authorities have added the name of a former football legend to the country’s controversial so-called terror list. Mohamed Aboutrika is a four-time African Footballer of the Year and court officials announced the blacklisting on Wednesday.
Aboutrika is one of Egypt’s all-time greatest athletes. He is accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest political party, which is currently banned by the government. Tens of thousands of people have been jailed on similar charges while courts have handed down hefty sentences to Brotherhood supporters and sympathizers.
The list currently contains 1,500 names, including those of senior Brotherhood members. Among them is former President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted in a coup led by the former head of the armed forces and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013.
Those blacklisted as terrorist become subject to a travel ban and face an asset freeze, according to a draconian law passed in 2015, which has drawn huge international criticism. Aboutrika supported Morsi’s bid to become the first democratically-elected president. The retired footballer, who is currently 38, has denied allegations of providing funds to the Brotherhood.
His lawyer said on Wednesday that the decision by the Criminal Court of Egypt was against the law. Mohamed Osman said Aboutrika has yet to be convicted or formally notified of the charges against him, adding that he would appeal the ruling. The legend footballer faced an earlier asset freeze order by a government committee in 2015. A later court ruling was supposed to lift the freeze although Osman said the ban was still in place.
Aboutrika, known as the Magician to many Egyptians, is currently in Gabon, where the Africa Cup of Nations is being held. Osman would not elaborate on when his client would return to Egypt to face the new charges.