International watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, calling on him to condemn statements made by Minister of Justice Ahmed Al-Zind in a recently televised interview.
On 27 January, Al-Zind was interviewed on Sada Al-Balad channel, appearing on television for the first time since he was appointed minister in May 2015. In the interview, Al-Zind advocated killing Muslim Brotherhood members, supporters, and affiliates, stating that he would not be satisfied until 10,000 Brotherhood members were killed for every fatality among the armed forces.
In her letter to Al-Sisi, HRW Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson wrote of the ongoing punitive measures the government has levelled against Brotherhood members and supporters as a real threat to the preservation of human rights.
“We urge you to use your authority as president to counter these dangerous remarks by your minister and protect Egyptian citizens who have the right to live safely and peacefully in their own country,” she said.
Al-Zind’s position as the Egyptian minister of justice amplifies the force of his statements, adding to a national climate that is already dominated by anti-Brotherhood rhetoric. Several state officials and prominent media figures characterise all Brotherhood members as national security threats, according to the HRW statement.
Several groups, among them the State Council, questioned the legality of the plans Al-Zind announced in his statements.
In Al-Zind’s interview, he claimed that the judiciary is to issue new laws to “expedite justice”. The articles of the tentative law are related to the “prolonged” litigation processes, adjourned verdicts, witnesses summons, and forensic medicine reports.
The State Council perceived the statements as a blatant interference in its judicial role and highlighted legal articles that clearly outline the council’s jurisdiction in general and in relation to Al-Zind’s statements in particular.