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Egypt’s terror lists target opposition figures

May 2, 2023 at 12:22 pm

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi [Dubai Media Office/Anadolu Agency]

Just days before the start of Egypt’s national dialogue, Egyptian courts issued a series of rulings to include the Muslim Brotherhood group on the list of terrorist entities for a new five-year period, beginning at the end of the previous listing period.

The move comes months before the start of the presidential race to elect a new head of state, as the second term of the current President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, draws to a close.

The recent rulings coincide with a severe economic crisis gripping the country, a shortage of the US dollars, the collapse in the value of the local currency, and a sharp rise in prices, along with increasing fears about the country’s inability to repay its foreign debts.

The figures included on the terrorism list comprise journalists, media professionals, human rights activists, doctors, former MPs, businessmen and opposition figures, including women, most of whom reside outside the country.

Three decisions

The rulings to include individuals on the terrorism list were not issued all at once, but rather in stages and through different courts, the most recent of which was the ruling issued on 19 April by the Cairo Criminal Court (Circuit 13-South) and which was presided over by Counselor Yasser Al-Ahmadawi, in Case No. 590 of 2021.

The ruling stipulated extending the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the list of terrorist entities and adding 81 Egyptians to the terrorist list for five years, according to Egypt’s official Gazette, Al-Waqi’a Al-Misriyya.

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On 19 March, the same newspaper published a judicial ruling issued by the Cairo Criminal Court’s First Circuit, presided over by Counsellor Mohamed El-Said El-Sharbini. The ruling stipulated extending the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the terrorism list and extending the inclusion of 169 Egyptians on the list of terrorists for five years, in Case No.435 for the year 2018.

The same court issued a third ruling on 7 March in Case No. 444 for the year 2018 supreme state security, which means that the two rulings – only 12 days apart – were issued by the same court, circuit and judges, while the latest ruling was issued by a different circuit.

Journalists and women

Those listed on the terrorism list include prominent opposition figure and former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, along with several prominent journalists, including Moataz Matar, Mohamed Nasser and Hamza Zawbaa.

The lists include 32 Egyptian journalists working for Al Jazeera, Al Sharq, Mekameleen, Watan, Rassd Network and several other news websites which oppose the Egyptian regime and which broadcast from abroad.

The terrorism lists also included Osama Gaweesh, Emad Albeheery, Hossam El-Ghamry, Youssef Hussein, Amr El-Qazzaz, Anas Zaki, Abdel Rahman Abu Al-Gheit, Masad El-Barbary, Mohamed Jamal Ismail and Samehi Mostafa.

The list also included a number of women; Hala Samir, Duaa Hassan, Fabyula Badawi, Abeer Abbas, Alaa Adel, Shaimaa Ibrahim, Mansoura Sbeegh, Fayza Abdel Halim, Magda Ahmed and Shorouk Amjad.

According to a statement issued by the Arab Media Freedom Monitor (Ikshef), the extension of the terrorism listing decision is an attempt to besiege and suppress opposition media, instil fear in the hearts of journalists and their families, restrict the coverage of Egyptian affairs and limit their mobility and travel.

Deceased included in the lists

Notably and surprisingly, the recently issued terrorism lists have included deceased individuals, the most prominent of them was the late President Mohamed Morsi (died 17 June 2019), the late Deputy Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian (13 August 2020) and the late scholar Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi (26 September 2022).

Earlier, Egyptian authorities had listed former ministers and MPs on terrorism lists, including Bassem Ouda, Mohamed Elbeltagy, Mohamed Emad Al-Din Saber, former Deputy Head of the Presidential Staff Asaad Al-Sheikhah, former Head of the President’s Office Ahmed Abdel Aaty, his security adviser Ayman Hadhoud, preacher Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, Islamic history Professor Gamal Abdel Hadi, preacher Mustafa Al-Badri, former official spokesman for the Ministry of Health Yahya Moussa, and others.

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Previously, the same lists included the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide Mohamed Badie, former acting general guide Mahmoud Ezzat, deputy guide Khairat Al-Shater, and a number of the group’s leaders, including Mohamed Abdel Rahman Al-Morsi, Mahmoud Hussein, Gamal Heshmat, Ali Bateikh, Amir Bassam, Helmi Al-Gazar, and others.

Legal consequences

Publishing the terrorism lists in Al-Waqi’a Al-Misriyya has several legal and punitive consequences, including: “inclusion on the travel ban and arrival monitor lists, revocation or abolishing of a passport or prohibiting the issuance of a new passport or its renewal.”

According to the law of terrorist entities, the listed person loses “the condition of good reputation and conduct required to assume public, parliamentary or local positions, and is not allowed to be appointed or contracted for public jobs, public sector companies or public business, and their work is suspended with half their salary paid.”

The funds or other assets owned by the convicted person, whether in full or in the form of a share in joint ownership, and their generated revenues, or those directly or indirectly controlled by them, as well as the funds or other assets belonging to the individuals and entities they work through, are frozen.

In the case of inclusion after death, these consequences are applied to the extent that the heirs can control those funds and assets, preventing them from freely disposing of assets.

Speaking to Middle East Monitor, M.J. said he “obtained a final ruling from the Court of Cassation (the highest court of appeal in the country) invalidating the decision to include me on the terrorism list.” However, the levies remained in effect. He confirmed that he is still unable to access funds deposited in his bank account.

One of those listed on the terrorism list, who requested anonymity, said he was surprised to find his name on the list in connection with a case that he had not been notified about. He said he was prevented from obtaining identification documents, while his salary was suspended.

Thousands are included on lists

In 2015, Al-Sisi issued Law No. 8 to regulate the lists of terrorist entities and terrorists, which allowed the general prosecutor to request certain criminal courts in Cairo to add individuals or groups to the terrorism lists.

Since the law was passed, thousands of individuals and groups have been listed as terrorists without any real legal hearings or procedures.

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Some of the figures belong to opposition parties and movements such as the Strong Egypt Party and the April 6 Youth Movement, as well as Ultras (football fan clubs), while others are journalists and human rights activists, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Egyptian authorities usually do not provide accurate statistics of those listed on the country’s terrorism lists and those included on the lists do not receive notification of hearings surrounding their inclusion on the terrorism lists.

In January 2021, the Youm7 newspaper (owned by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service) estimated that 6,602 people had been included on terrorism lists in Egypt.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.