In what has been described as ‘a slip the tongue’, Egypt’s Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind said that he would jail Mohammed himself if the prophet broke the law.
Zind, according to the BBC, made the remark in a televised interview on Friday. He immediately said “God forgive me” and apologised the following day, but he was sacked by the Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail.
He further apologised for the “blasphemous” remark in a telephone conversation with the CBC television on Saturday.
The thing that a Muslim or a non-Muslim is held culpable for is what is done willfully. I ask God Almighty for forgiveness over and over and over again … I know my apology will be accepted.
It was not immediately clear who would replace Zind, an outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A government statement said:
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree today to relieve Ahmed al-Zind … of his position.
It gave no further details.
Egyptian judges issued a statement opposing Zind’s removal over what the head of the Judges Club said was a slip of the tongue that could have happened to anyone.
Abdallah Fath said:
Egypt’s judges are sorry that someone who defended Egypt and its people, judiciary and nation … should be punished in this way.
But Egypt’s highest Islamic authority, al-Azhar, responded in a warning statement, without naming Zind:
All those involved in public discourse and in the media must respect the name of the Prophet. He should not be subjected to any insult even if it’s unintentional.
Zind, a former appeals court judge, has in the past denounced the revolt that ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule and ushered in the election that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power.
He has also been a strong defender of the judiciary and its powerful position.
Egyptian courts have been absolving Mubarak-era officials, while imposing long sentences on liberal and Islamist activists.
The country’s judiciary has faced criticism from rights groups over the past two years after judges issued mass death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood supporters, locking up youth activists and sentencing writers and journalists.
Zind’s predecessor was forced to resign last May after saying the son of a rubbish collector was ineligible to serve as a judge.