An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced former presidential candidate Abdel Mouneim Aboul Foutouh to 15 years in prison for "conspiring to overthrow the state".
In Egypt, accusing the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sissi of "authoritarian drift" has become a truism. In the “land of two lands”, the atmosphere is one of repression. Because after killing and imprisoning his opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood movement by the thousands, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi quickly turned against the “secular” opposition, commonly called “the moderates” by the Egyptian media.
One of the latter is the so-called “Egyptian Erdoğan”, doctor and trade unionist Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh. At the start of protests preceding the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the trade unionist was among those calling for the downfall of the Islamist president. At least until Abdel Fattah el-Sisi takes matters into his own hands, arresting Morsi and decimating thousands of Muslim Brotherhood activists on the streets of Cairo.
Aboul Foutouh was himself one of the leaders of the Islamist movement before the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He represented the reformist wing of the movement, and was rather popular in Egypt among young people, who saw him as the first political leader. "centrist" of the country's history. In 2012, Aboul Foutouh ran in the presidential election, where he won 20% of the vote, de facto opposing the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had excluded him from the movement.
Despite his opposition to Mohamed Morsi, Aboul Foutouh quickly condemned al-Sissi's military coup after the massacre in Rabia-El-Adaouïa Square on August 14, 2013. He has been in opposition ever since.
An “unfair and without legal basis” trial
But in 2018, Abdel Mouneim Aboul Foutouh was detained, then accused of being in contact with “entities hostile to the state and of spreading false information”. Long, illegal pre-trial detention according to Amnesty International, followed.
Indeed, Egyptian law does not allow the renewal of a pretrial detention of more than 45 days, renewable once. As for the arrest, it cannot in any case exceed two years. However, Aboul Foutouh was judged after more than 4 years in the jails of al-Sissi.
Last Sunday, the Cairo Court of First Instance sentenced Abdel Mouneim Aboul Foutouh to 15 years in prison, after a trial deemed "unfair and without legal basis", according to dozens of human rights groups.
The "plot to overthrow the state", of which the trade unionist is accused, which has still not been proven by the prosecution, boils down to "meetings with militants of the Muslim Brotherhood group with a view to causing trouble in Egypt" .
No tangible proof has been put forward to date, which, in a state of law, could leave a hope of acquittal on appeal. But in Egypt, justice is not necessarily lenient, even without evidence.
Aboul Foutouh, the last of the Mohicans
Two other politicians were convicted in the same trial, yet considered to be the political enemies of Aboul Foutouh. Mahmoud Ezzat, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, received the same sentence, and Ibrahim Mounir, another framework of the movement, still in exile, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In the case of Abdel Mouneim Aboul Foutouh, his arrest took place shortly after he had signed an open letter denouncing "the climate of terror" in Egypt, in 2018. Aboul Foutouh, as well as several Egyptian political figures then deplored the conditions of presentation at the last presidential election.
All of the signatories, including political party leaders, media figures and former ministers and military personnel have since been imprisoned or died in bizarre circumstances. Aboul Foutouh, as well as his two co-defendants are the last survivors.
Ahead of 🇪🇬elections, Sisi takes no risks. Another major Egyptian politician (and former presidential candidate), moderate Islamist Aboul-Foutouh, arrested. https://t.co/NsLd4sZ5pi
- Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) -