Activist Marwa Kenawy Petitions Against Pardoning of her Son’s Convicted Killers

Activist Marwa Kenawy Petitions Against Pardoning of her Son’s Convicted Killers

Photo Credit: Personal Facebook account of Marwa Kenawy.

Political activist and mother of Youssef Sameh Al-Arabi, Marwa Kenawy, announced through her Facebook page that two of those accused of shooting her son dead – a dismissed officer and the son of a parliamentarian – received a release from the presidency 15 days ago.

The announcement was made on social media channels on January 13 and their release is currently in progress.

On a night in May of 2017, Youssef Al-Arabi, then 13 years old, was with his friends in the Al-Hosary area of 6 October, when he suddenly fell to the ground, bleeding and unresponsive. Upon arrival at the hospital, the doctors discovered a bullet lodged in the child’s brain. After several surgeries, Youssef entered a coma, and died 12 days later.

Police investigations revealed that a wedding was taking place on the roof of a building in Al-Hosary Square, and a number of wedding guests fired gunshots in celebration. A stray bullet from the shooting ended the life of Youssef Al-Arabi.

The Ministry of Interior’s security services carried out an investigation in which dozens of apartments near the scene of the accident were examined until they were able to reach the perpetrators.

The killing of Youssef sparked controversy on social media, prompting many to discuss the harms of firing gun shots at celebrations and safety measures for children nationwide.

In May 2018, the Criminal Court sentenced three defendants to five years in prison for possession of a weapon and two years for manslaughter; the fourth defendant was acquitted.

The two accused of killing Youssef Al-Arabi are Taher Mohamed Amin Abu Talib and Khaled Ahmed Abdel Tawab, respectively a dismissed police officer and the son of a parliamentarian. Both surrendered to the Giza Security Directorate 24 hours after their 7-year prison sentence was confirmed.

A retrial took place in May of 2019 with the Cairo Criminal Court issuing a seven year sentence for the perpetrators, on the grounds of killing the child Youssef Sameh Al-Arabi in Al-Hosary Square.

Over the last few days, Marwa Kenawy, along with a number of human rights lawyers and activists, questioned the legality of the decision to conditionally release the accused after only serving half their sentence.

On January 14, Marwa posted a letter to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on her Facebook page, urging him to look into the conditional pardon.

Various lawyers, activists, and civilians posted on social media in solidarity with Marwa by using the hashtag #حق_يوسف (Justice for Youssef).

On Sunday, a petition on was created by Marwa, where she wrote: “I request you to sign the following petition so as not to lose justice for my son Youssef and to stand against letting his killers leave through a pardon after serving half of their sentence.” So far, over two thousand people have signed the petition, standing with Marwa Kenawy in her battle for the justice of her son, Youssef Al-Arabi.

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Fadila is Cairo-based writer getting her BA in Anthropology from the American University in Cairo with minors in Creative Writing and History. She's particularly passionate about politics and social justice, especially human rights and human rights violations. After hours, Fadila can be found at some niche café reading a - most likely - Radwa Ashour novel with a cup of Turkish coffee.

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