Egypt dismisses minister after 'prophet' comments

Egypt's prime minister has sacked Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend after his controversial remarks about imprisoning "the prophet" went viral.Ahmed el-Zend was on a private Egyptian channel discussing his opponents on Friday when the interviewer asked him whether he would imprison journalists."Even if it's the prophet - peace and prayers upon him," Zend said before quickly repenting. He then added that anyone who is at fault will be imprisoned "regardless of their stature"."Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree today to relieve Ahmed al-Zend ... of his position," a government statement said, giving no more details.Egyptian judges issued a statement opposing Zend's removal over what the head of the Judges Club told Reuters news agency was a slip of the tongue that could have happened to anyone."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," said Abdallah Fathi.Earlier on Sunday, Egypt's al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, released a statement warning against any blasphemous comments surrounding the prophet "even if it were a mistake".Videos of Zend's comments were shared widely online, causing the Arabic hashtag "Not the prophet, Prosecute el-Zend" to trend on Twitter in Egypt.Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former presidential candidate in Egypt's 2012 election, tweeted his condemnation of Zend's remarks and urged criminal charges be brought.Another user named Mostafa Hesham tweeted out how Zend's predecessor resigned amid public outrage after he said the sons of rubbish collectors should not become judges."The former justice minister was removed after commenting on the garbage collector, so imagine talking like that about the prophet," he said.But Mahdi Abo Fateem, a Saudi Arabian author, reminded readers that Zend quickly backed away from the comments. "Despite our differences with el-Zend, we have to tell the truth. The man repented when he realised his mistake," Abo Fateem tweeted.Others tweeted about the remarks in English. An Egyptian TV host, Yousef el-Hosseiny, attacked Zend on his show saying the minister can't self-censor what he says."[Zend] cannot moderate his own speech, nor can he control his outbursts... This is the Egyptian minister of justice, be careful," Hosseiny said on his show.

source : the new nation

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