Egypt's old guard MP to head human rights committee

Egypt's old guard MP to head human rights committee
Notorious Egyptian lawyer and MP Mortada Mansour has been asked to oversee Egypt's human rights council, sparking outrage from pro-democracy and human rights' activists.
3 min read
13 January, 2016
Mansour objected to the constitution stating that 25 January 2011 was a revolution [Anadolu]

A controversial Egyptian lawyer who once threatened to hit activists who mentioned human rights with his shoe, has been selected to chair parliament's... human right's council.

Mortada Mansour is associated with the regime's "old guard", and once described the 2011 pro-democracy movement which forced out Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak as an "uprising" and "not a revolution".

Egyptian parliamentary law states that the country's oldest MPs are assigned to chair the 19 parliament's committees. 

These bodies are responsible for reviewing dozens of decrees issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi since he came to power following 2014's military coup.

Critics say that most of those picked for these important legislative positions are regime loyalists and unlikely to challenge laws issued by the president.

The decision to select Mansour as head of the parliamentary human rights' group has been met with derision from pro-democracy campaigners. 

Mansour has long been associated with Cairo's oppressive regimes.

On Sunday, he again courted controversy during Egypt's first parliamentary session in almost four years.

Mansour insisted on swearing to uphold "articles of the constitution" and not the "whole constitution".

The loud-mouthed MP said he objected to the constitution on the basis that the overthrow of Mubarak in 2011 was "an uprising, not a revolution". 

Under pressure, Mansour backed down and read out the oath correctly.

Social media users blasted the MP.

One Twitter user said that Mansour's denial of the revolution made it even more honourable.

More social media users made comments about the irony of selecting "strongman" Mansour as head of the human rights committee.

"If Mortada Mansour heads the human rights committee and Mostafa Bakry heads the media committee, then Hitler can head the liberties committee," one user tweeted.

Others shared an old video of Mansour cussing human rights advocates and saying, "If you mention human rights, I will hit you with my shoe."

"If you mention human rights, I will hit you with my shoe."
- Mortada Mansour

In 2015, Mansour - as president of Zamalak football club - was blamed for a massacre of the club's fans outside the home ground.

Police fired tear gas at a crowd of Zamalek supporters that had gathered outside the air force stadium.

The ensuing chaos led to the death of at least 22 Zamalek supporters - from asphyxiation or being crushed to death in the ensuing panic.

Mansour was also accused of orchestrating a violent incident known as the "Battle of the Camels" during the 2011 revolution. 

On 2 February, armed men on camels and horseback thundered into Cairo's Tahrir Square attacking protesters with swords leaving 11 dead and over 600 injured.

Mansour was later acquitted, along with 24 others.

Mansour is also known for using obscene language, blackmailing opponents, and making racist remarks.

In July 2015, phoned into a TV interview featuring Ahmed al-Marghani, a young football star who had been suspended after criticising Sisi online.

He went on to launch a scathing attack against Marghani, calling him a "doorman, servant and traitor".

In 2013, Mansour announced he was running for president,  later said he withdrew after receiving "a sign from God" that Sisi would win the elections.