Barely weeks after a Human Rights Group sought the condemnation of Egypt’s minister of justice; Ahmed al-Zind by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, for statements that supported the mass killings of supporters of the Muslim brotherhood, the controversial justice minister has gotten himself sacked. The minister shot himself in the leg on Friday, proving that the reactions of the Human Rights Group, which termed his initial statements as hate speech was in reality, quite spot on.
Ahmed al-Zind had been taking part in a televised interview on private satellite channel Sada al-Balad on Friday when he said that he would jail Islam’s prophet Muhammad himself if he broke the law. As expected, the statement was met with widespread uproar and heavy criticism. It seemed not to matter that he immediately halted and asked for forgiveness from God, following through with a full-blown apology in another interview on Saturday, the people were not forgiving.
Today, the Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree to relieve him of his position. It was issued by the premier’s office and gave no further details or explanations. Ahmed al-Zind was a former appeal court judge and has never attempted to be careful in criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood which was removed from power in the mid-2013 by the military and subsequently banned as a terrorist group. Since then, a number of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death or given long sentences in mass trials and quite a number of activist writers and journalists perceived to be for the Muslim Brotherhood have been locked up.
The justice minister has also been a staunch supporter of the country’s judiciary, so the statement by Egyptian judges which oppose his removal is not completely unexpected. The head of the judges told Reuters that his statement was a slip of the tongue that could have infact befallen anyone, effectively categorizing his dismissal as unfair. Abdallah Fathi said; “Egypt’s judges are sorry that someone who defended Egypt and its people, judiciary and nation in the face of the terrorist organisation that wanted to bring it down should be punished in this way,”.
Mr al-Zind is the second justice minister to be dismissed in less than a year for controversial comments and a number of people have categorized his dismissal as a blow to the current government, there is also no imminent successor in sight yet.