Egypt's prime minister fired Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind Sunday after the latter was accused of making blasphemous comments by saying that he would even imprison the Prophet Muhammad if he committed a crime. Zind reportedly made the remarks Friday in a televised interview.
Zind reportedly said that he would jail anyone who violates the law, "even if he is the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him." The former appeals court judge was criticized after making the comments, following which he issued an apology Saturday. "I ask God for forgiveness" for making the comment, Zind said. Despite the apology, Zind faced backlash from Muslims and was also criticized on social media.
"Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree today to relieve Ahmed al-Zind ... of his position," a government statement said, giving no more details, according to reports. However, it was not immediately unclear who would replace Zind.
Egyptian judges opposed Zind's removal over what the head of the Judges Club told Reuters 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 ... should be punished in this way," Abdallah Fath said.
Zind, who is an outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a strong defender of the judiciary and its powerful position. In the past two years, Egypt’s judiciary has faced criticism from rights groups after judges issued mass death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood supporters, imprisoning youth activists and sentencing writers and journalists.
Last May, Zind’s predecessor was reportedly forced to resign after saying that the son of a garbage collector was not eligible to serve as a judge.