The Egyptian government arrests El-Tawheed Wel Nour and Juhayna chiefs

Egyptian authorities have arrested Sayed Sowerky, the owner of the El-Tawheed Wel Nour retail chain. They have also arrested Safwan Thabet, CEO of dairy company Juhayna Food Industries. Both men have been arrested on charges of financing terrorism. If convicted, they will be added to terrorism lists and their assets will be seized.

El-Tawheed Wel Nour retails clothing, textiles, homewares and furniture. It has branches across Egypt. Juhayna Food Industries is a major player in the Egyptian dairy and juice sectors. In 2015, the company set up a joint venture with global dairy giant Arla.

Both men face charges of inciting violence and financing terrorism. If convicted, they will be added to terrorism lists and their assets will be seized.

In 2015, The Egyptian government committee tasked with managing Muslim Brotherhood funds confiscated the assets of Juhayna’s Safwan Thabet, all except for the food company, which was excluded because it is listed on the stock exchange.

It marks a further move by the Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to target political opponents in the business sector. In April 2019, tycoon Hassan Malek and his son Hamza were among seven Brotherhood members handed life terms. Malek, an informal advisor to Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, built his fortune through a chain of computer, electronics and furniture stores.

In 2014, Egyptian police raided the Seoudi supermarket chain, owned by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Abdelrahman Al-Seoudi, closing its branches temporarily. Police also targeted another chain, Zad, owned by the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat El-Shater. Seoudi later re-opened under the auspices of a state owned wholesaler. Abdelrahman Al-Seoudi was subsequently convicted to life in prison at the same time as Hassan Malek.

Following the transition of power in 2014, the Egyptian military has crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in a major crackdown. It arrested deposed president Morsi and many of the group’s other leaders, who have been in prison undergoing multiple trials ever since. Mohamed Morsi died during court hearings in 2019. In total, some estimates place the number of political prisoners at 60,000.