Egyptian football star back on terror list

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  • In January this year he was voted Egypt’s greatest-ever player, topping a FIFA poll with 56 percent and beating Salah.
  • Yesterday it was Mohamed Salah’s issues and today it is Aboutrika. Both of them have us and all Egyptians behind them, a Cairo resident .

CAIRO: Retired football star Mohamed Aboutrika is among more than 1,500 people who have been put back on Egypt’s terror list, along with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The decision was announced by Cairo Criminal Court on Monday. Aboutrika’s lawyer promised to fight the ruling.

“For the second time, we were surprised to hear the news about my client being placed on the terror list. We learned about it from the media but we will proceed to take all necessary legal action to put into effect two rulings that removed his name from the list previously,” said Mohamed Osman. Aboutrika, 39, who was Africa Player of the Year four times, first came under suspicion in 2015. He was accused of financing the Muslim Brotherhood, which was classified as a terrorist organization in 2013, and the government froze his assets.

In January 2017, his name was added to Egypt’s terror list, again because he was accused of financing the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Aboutrika launched an appeal in July and learned only two weeks ago that his appeal had been successful.

The court announcement came on the day that Aboutrika received the Asian Football Confederation ‘A’ license certificiate, bringing him a step closer to becoming a professional coach. This week Egypt’s current top footballing star, Mohamed Salah, who is the top scorer with Liverpool in the English Premier League, was embroiled in a row with the Egyptian Football Federation over conflicting sponsorship deals. The federation had used images of Salah on the official plane, which is sponsored by telecoms company WE. Salah has a separate sponsorship deal with rivals Vodafone.

Fans took to social media to voice their discontent. “Yesterday it was Mohamed Salah’s issues and today it is Aboutrika. Both of them have us and all Egyptians behind them and we will support them,” said Mohamed Tolba, a Cairo resident in his 20s.

“Aboutrika is the terrorist of our hearts. He is and will remain in our hearts forever,” said another fan.

The midfielder, who was nicknamed “The Magician” and “The Saint,” enjoyed a successful career with Ahly and the Egyptian national team. He hung up his boots in December 2013 after playing for Ahly in the FIFA Club World Cup.

In January this year he was voted Egypt’s greatest-ever player, topping a FIFA poll with 56 percent and beating Salah, Mahmoud Al-Khateeb and Hossam Hassan.

However, not everyone is sympathetic to his current plight. Television presenter Ahmed Moussa said: “Aboutrika is on the terror list for the second time not by our decision but by the decision of the court. He works with an organization that is an enemy to Egypt.”

Cairo resident Goher Noor El Din said, half-jokingly: “Now Aboutrika becomes the technical manager for the Muslim Brotherhood team.”

The list of 1,529 individuals includes several leading figures from the Muslim Brotherhood, such as former president Muhammad Mursi, his son Osama and daughter Shaimaa, former speaker of the parliament Saad Al-Katani and other former ministers. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the Doha-based International Union of Muslim Scholars, is also on the list.

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