- Title: Egypt puts retired football star on terror list
- Date: 18th January 2017
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (FILE) (REUTERS) CAIRO TRAFFIC
- Embargoed: 1st February 2017 15:39
- Keywords: Egypt Mohamed Aboutrika Muslim Brotherhood terror
- Location: KUMASI AND ACCRA, GHANA / TOYOTA AND TOKYO, JAPAN / AGADIR, MOROCCO / CAIRO, EGYPT
- City: KUMASI AND ACCRA, GHANA / TOYOTA AND TOKYO, JAPAN / AGADIR, MOROCCO / CAIRO, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0085ZLWNJZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Egypt has added one of the country's most renowned athletes, retired football star Mohamed Aboutrika, to a terrorism list for alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Fans expressed shock and called the government move an "injustice" against the former midfielder who led the country's national team for roughly a decade and is widely considered to be the most celebrated athlete of his generation in Egypt.
The 38-year-old Aboutrika racked up a bevy of awards and honours locally and internationally. Outside his former sporting club, Al Ahly, in the posh Cairo neighbourhood of Zemalak, fans voiced disbelief.
"There is a stupid decision and those who took it are failures. This will have such negative consequences - worse than they can expect. When a well-behaved player like Aboutrika is being called a terrorist... why is this happening? What did he do? So, somebody supports a certain faction, so what? What's the problem? Christians say they're Christian and Muslims say they're Muslim," said Abdel Hamid Abdel Aziz, a fan of Egyptian club Al Ahly where Aboutrika played.
An employee at his former club also voiced her astonishment at the decision.
"When someone like that is being called a terrorist -- I don't know what to tell you. We were all shocked. Yesterday, I was shocked when I turned on the TV and saw the news. My children were devastated," said Mona Mohamed.
Egypt has listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and jailed thousands of its supporters since the military removed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi from office in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
Aboutrika has denied supporting the Brotherhood, which maintains that it is peaceful, but was seen as supporting the former president's election campaign in 2012. He later had his assets frozen by a committee established to seize and manage Brotherhood properties and funds.
Not everyone however voiced sympathy towards the former soccer star. One man in Cairo said he hoped to see Aboutrika behind bars.
"I agree with what happened, because he isn't a good person. He gained the people's affection, but he turned out not to be a good person. So, he deserves what happened to him. I want even worse to happen to him, I want him imprisoned, God willing. He stood against the country. He supported the Brotherhood. He was with them in Rabaa and he donated his money to them, and so I don't like people like that. We shouldn't let it slide because he's a soccer player. We can find anyone else to play soccer," he said.
Aboutrika is a towering sports figure in the Arab world and its most populous country, where football is a national pastime with the ability to quiet Cairo's chaotic streets during big matches.
Egypt is facing an increasingly violent insurgency in Northern Sinai, where the country's most active militant group has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Cairo and other cities have also suffered attacks.
The terrorism list designation means the former player will be banned from travel and placed on a watch list for three years, state newspaper Al-Ahram said. More than 1500 other individuals were also placed on the terrorism list, it added.
Aboutrika is currently in Gabon as a commentator for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
His lawyer, Mohamed Osman, declined to say when he might return to his home country, but said the decision, made by a Cairo criminal court, would be appealed.
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