Controversial Egyptian lawyer believes ‘no one is above the law’

Samir Sabry
Updated 09 October 2019

Controversial Egyptian lawyer believes ‘no one is above the law’

  • Samir Sabry specializes in going after politicians and celebrities

CAIRO: Egyptian lawyer Samir Sabry is constantly associated with high-profile court cases that have ignited public opinion. That he shares the same name as the famed Egyptian actor certainly helped the lawyer to reach celebrity status. Sabry specializes in going after politicians and celebrities with the aim, many Egyptians believe, of gaining more fame for himself. In many instances, Sabry is more famous than the cases he prosecutes.

In September, Sabri sent more than one case to the general prosecutor. He accused fugitive contractor Mohamed Aly of stealing 12 million Egyptian pounds ($735,000) from a contracting company. Sabry also charged Hassan Nafaa, a political analyst and professor of political science at Cairo University, of high treason for conducting a phone call with Al-Jazeera TV channel. Egypt has strained relations with Qatar, which owns Al-Jazeera.  Sabry has also trained his sights on celebrities. Perhaps his most famous celebrity case was against Jennifer Lopez. Sabry accused Jennifer Lopez of wearing provocative clothes inciting debauchery and immorality at her concert in the Mediterranean city of El-Alamein in August. The lawyer, known for his morality crusades, demanded that she be prevented from entering Egypt again. Sabry pointed out that Lopez appeared in transparent clothes, which sparked controversy all over social media.

Another famous celebrity case was named the “Rania Youssef dress.” In 2018, Sabry filed a case with the general prosecutor’s office against Egyptian actress Rania Youssef who attended that year’s Cairo International Film Festival wearing a body-hugging, see-through dress. Sabry said the actress’s dress was too revealing, violating the public morals of Egyptians.

FASTFACT

• Samir Sabry specializes in going after politicians and celebrities with the aim, many Egyptians believe, of gaining more fame for himself. In many instances, Sabry is more famous than the cases he prosecutes.

• Sabry’s most famous celebrity case was against Jennifer Lopez. Sabry accused Jennifer Lopez of wearing provocative clothes inciting debauchery and immorality at her concert in the Mediterranean city of El-Alamein in August.

• The lawyer, known for his morality crusades, demanded that she be prevented from entering Egypt again.

Sabry also took on singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab, accusing her of insulting Egypt while singing in a concert in Lebanon. During the concert, an audience member asked Abdel-Wahab to sing “Mashrebtesh Men Nelha” (Haven’t You Drank from Its Nile) to which the singer replied: “You are going to get sick from bilharzia. You better drink Evian water.”

In his report, Sabry said that Abdel-Wahab had “badly insulted her country, causing panic for those who want to visit Egypt and the Nile River, Egypt’s most important touristic destination. Thus, she caused severe damage to the already suffering tourism business which had a negative impact on the Egyptian economy.”

Sabry shuns interviews. He rarely shows up on talk shows. He gave a brief statement to Arab News saying that throughout his career, he has filed more than 3,000 lawsuits seeking the best interests of the country. He affirmed that he does not exclude anyone within his purview, whether politicians, celebrities, dancers, football players, or even clerics, because, he said, the law should not exclude anyone.

Sabry said he only cares about his religion, his country, and the morals of society. He said many lawyers do not shake hands with him because, as he described it, they hold a grudge against him.


US to pull last troops from north Syria

Updated 14 October 2019

US to pull last troops from north Syria

  • The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria
  • Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of US’s Kurdish-led ally the Syrian Democratic Forces

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT: The United States said on Sunday it will withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northern Syria in the face of an expanding Turkish offensive while Syria’s army struck a deal with Kurdish forces to redeploy along its border with Turkey, both major victories for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria and the failure of the US policy of keeping Assad from reasserting state authority over areas lost during the more than eight-year conflict with rebels trying to end his rule.
The developments also represent wins for Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad since 2011 when his violent effort to crush what began as peaceful protests against his family’s decades-long rule of Syria exploded into a full-blown civil war.
While the US withdrawal moves American troops out of the line of fire, the return of Syrian soldiers to the Turkish border opens up the possibility of a wider conflagration should the Syrian army come in direct conflict with Turkish forces.
The Turkish onslaught in northern Syria has also raised the prospect that Daesh militants and their families held by the Kurdish forces targeted by Turkey may escape — scores were said to have done so already — and permit the group’s revival.
The remarkable turn of events was set in motion a week ago when US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw about 50 special operations forces from two outposts in northern Syria, a step widely seen as paving the way for Turkey to launch its week-long incursion against Kurdish militia in the region.
Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of Washington’s Kurdish-led ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been a key US ally in dismantling the “caliphate” set up by Daesh militants in Syria.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group aligned with Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said the offensive would extend from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east and extend some 30 kilometers into Syrian territory, with the town of Ras al Ain now in Turkish control.
US Defense Secretary Mike Esper said the United States decided to withdraw its roughly 1,000 troops in northern Syria — two US officials told Reuters it could pull the bulk out in days — after learning of the deepening Turkish offensive.
It was unclear what would happen to the several hundred US troops at the American military outpost of Tanf, near Syria’s southern border with Iraq and Jordan.
Another factor behind the decision, Esper indicated in an interview with the CBS program “Face the Nation,” was that the SDF aimed to make a deal with Russia and Syria to counter the Turkish onslaught. Several hours later, the Kurdish-led administration said it had struck just such an agreement for the Syrian army to deploy along the length of the border with Turkey to help repel Ankara’s offensive.
The deployment would help the SDF in countering “this aggression and liberating the areas that the Turkish army and mercenaries had entered,” it added, referring to Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, and would also allow for the liberation of other Syrian cities occupied by the Turkish army such as Afrin.
The fighting has sparked Western concerns that the SDF, holding large swathes of northern Syria once controlled by Daesh, would be unable to keep thousands of militants in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps.