Outrage in Egypt over justice minister’s prophet remark
CAIRO - Agence France-PresseEgypt’s justice minister faced outrage on social media March 13 after a television interview in which he said he would arrest even “a prophet,” although he later admitted it was a “slip of tongue.”
When asked in an interview on private satellite channel Sada Al-Balad on March 11 about a case involving journalists accused of defaming him and whether he would jail them, Ahmed al-Zind said he would imprison anyone.
“Even if it’s a prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him,” Zind said, using the Islamic saying of reverence spoken by Muslims only when referring to the Prophet Mohammed.
Upon realizing what he had said, Zind immediately stopped and said: “I ask for forgiveness from God.”
He further said any “wrongdoer, whatever his identity - even judges” would be jailed if found guilty.
Zind’s remarks triggered outrage on social media networks immediately after the interview, with angry tweets continuing to pour in yesterday.
Cairo-based Al-Azhar, a prestigious learning center of Sunni Islam, even issued a warning.
Angry Egyptians launched the Twitter hashtag “trial for Zind” as they lashed out at the minister, who only in January had angered human rights groups after he called for the “mass killing” of outlawed Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
“At least he should be sacked and then put on trial. This issue is not a joke,” said one tweet yesterday.
“God will take revenge,” said another.
Zind clarified in a separate telephone interview with private network CBC television on March 12 that his remark was a mere “slip of tongue.”
They were “meant in a hypothetical sense ... but the Muslim Brotherhood supporters seized on them.”
Al-Azhar warned against insulting the Prophet Mohammed.