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Egypt detains family of YouTube host who shared video showing alleged abuses

Abdullah el-Sharif says his brothers have been arrested days after he aired footage purporting to show an Egyptian officer burning a civilian
Abdullah el-Sharif featured the video on his satirical politics show which aired on YouTube last Thursday (YouTube)

The host of a popular YouTube show says Egyptian security forces have arrested two of his brothers days after he aired a video allegedly showing an Egyptian military officer mutilating and burning a civilian in Sinai.

Abdullah el-Sharif said in a tweet on Tuesday that his brothers, Amr and Ahmed, had been seized from their family home in Alexandria.

“The junta’s militias have stormed my father’s home in Alexandria, searched it, and arrested my brothers Amr and Ahmed el-Sharif as a response to Thursday’s video," Sharif said in the tweet. "We are not yet aware of their destiny or their whereabouts."

Sharif's show, which has over 2.4 million subscribers, is generally critical of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the ex-army general who became president after ousting his predecessor Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in 2013. 

Egyptian activist held after tweeting video allegedly showing officer burning civilian
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Last week, Sharif shared a video which he said showed a special forces officer in the Egyptian army kicking the body of a civilian in Sinai, mutilating one of his fingers and then setting his body on fire. 

Nearly three million people have watched the episode over the past five days and it has been shared widely on social media. 

Last Friday, Cairo-based activist Nermine Hussein was detained from her home after posting the video on Twitter and sharing the name of the officer who allegedly appeared in the video.

The video has reignited concerns over persistent accusations of abuse and extrajudicial killings by Egypt’s security forces in their seven-year-old campaign against militants in northern Sinai. 

Middle East Eye has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video. The Egyptian government denies journalists and rights groups access to Sinai and has not commented widely, along with the military or pro-state media, on the footage.

Kamal Amer, chairman of the parliamentary Defence and National Security Committee in the Egyptian parliament, however, told MEE that the video was a fake and was being used “to shake the relationship between the military and the people”.

Since Sisi became president in 2014, Egyptian security services routinely arrest family members of exiled dissidents and critics who are publicly critical of human rights violations under his rule. 

A report by Human Rights Watch in November accused the Sisi government of “reprisals” against relatives of dozens of exiled activists, including arrests, travel bans and passport confiscation.