Egypt legend Aboutrika’s firm seized


MOHAMMED-ABOUTRIKACAIRO, May 28- Egyptian authorities have seized share certificates belonging to former star national footballer Mohamed Aboutrika in a company he founded amid allegations it funded the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood, judicial officials said Thursday.

The authorities have cracked down on members and supporters of the Islamist movement since July 2013, when the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely-elected leader.

Aboutrika, one of the biggest African footballers of his time, had publicly endorsed Morsi’s 2012 presidential bid.

Morsi was ousted after mass protests against his sole year of divisive rule, and an ensuing police crackdown targeting his supporters and his Muslim Brotherhood movement has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

On Thursday, the authorities confiscated Aboutrika’s share certificates in his travel company Tours, which was formed when Morsi was in office, a judicial official said.

The authorities allege that the company funded the Muslim Brotherhood, which was blacklisted by the government as a “terrorist group” in December 2013.

Assets of six other companies were also confiscated on Thursday, and a court is expected to decide on the issue soon, officials said.

The move to seize Aboutrika’s shares sparked an outcry on social networks, with the retired footballer’s fans condemning it.

Expressing defiance over the seizure, Aboutrika himself tweeted: “Confiscate the money or confiscate the money’s owner, I will not leave the country, and I will continue to work for its prosperity.”

A star of the Cairo-based club Al-Ahly as well as the Egyptian national team, 36-year-old midfielder Aboutrika retired in 2013, and since then has avoided expressing his political views publicly.