Despite the popular outraged sparked by a recent statement released by the Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber, he has refused to retract his remarks in the face of many demanding him to leave office.
On Sunday Saber said the son of a garbage collector could never work as a judge or in the judicial sector because he would not have grown up in a suitable social environment. As a result, Saber argued, He would “endure several troubles and depression, and might not be able to continue to work.”
“I am convinced of what I said, I did not offend anyone,” Saber stated in a Dotmasr interview on Monday. “I was reflecting reality, not making it up; that’s how things go in the army and the police service, too.”
He continued, arguing that his views are merely personal and do not affect his position as he does not oversee judicial appointments.
Maat NGO for peace, development and human rights released a press statement condemning Saber's statement, saying that it violates the constitutional provisions of article "14", which considers the efficiency is the only criterion in any government position.
“Moreover, article number 53 prohibits discrimination among citizens on the basis of any considerations,” the press statement read.
Maat argued that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi should dismiss Saber because it’s a significant political action and speedy enactment of strict legislation to punish those who commit the crime of discrimination.
The angry public considered the statement is reflecting the country reality of nepotism that has eaten away at government positions.
The Congress Party released a press statement on Monday describing Saber’s statement as being racist, explaining that every citizen has the right to work in any government position according to the Egyptian Constitution. “The cost of any country’s renaissance is borne by the working class and the poor,” said Congress Party spokesperson Mohammed Mousa.
Mousa pointed out that the fathers of the Egyptian presidents were from the working class and the farmers; however they reached the noblest position in the country. Before taking over the rule, the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was working as a porter.
“Don’t destroy the youth hope and don’t affect people support to the president by your speeches,” Mousa said.
The April 6 Youth Movement condemned the minister’s statement, saying it is inconsistent with the principle of justice enshrined in the Constitution and laws.
Shehata al-Moqadis, the head of the Garbage Collectors Syndicate, has criticized Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber for objecting to the appointment of the sons of garbage collectors in the judiciary. “I see no social justice in this,” he said. “How can he deprive certain brackets of the Egyptian society of their rights?”
Addressing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, al-Moqadis who has no children, said the Constitution does not discriminate against social class.
“At any rate, I have not heard of a son of a garbage collector wanting to work for the judiciary,” he said.
Khaled Ali, a lawyer and political activist, said that the statement is not just a personal opinion, but it is a living embodiment of the systematic behavior used by all state bodies to exclude all people coming from poor backgrounds from holding offices of authority.
Reaction on social media
Saber's statement objecting to the appointment of sons of garbage collectors in the judiciary also angered many users of social networking sites, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports.
The hashtag of “Dismiss the Justice Minister” has exceeded 16,000 tweets following the minister’s statement.
“They want the son of a judge to be one and the son of a garbage collector to be one so that the poor remain poor and the rich get richer,” tweeted a user.
Another wrote: “Looks like the minister did not read the Constitution.”
Former Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei wrote: “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that all citizens have equal rights to access public jobs in their countries.”
Activist Gamal Eid wrote: “The Justice Minister discriminates against the poor and the values of equality in the Constitution. He must be dismissed.”
Shadi al-Ghazaly Harb said the statement reflects the attitude of the whole judicial system and called for reforming it fully by issuing an anti-nepotism law.
Former MP Mohamed Abu Hamed argued it was the poor who blocked the attack of the Muslim Brotherhood on the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Khaled Telema said in his program on ONTV that Brazil's President Lula da Silva was a shoe shiner who has in eight years made Brazil’s one of the largest economies in the world.
Mohamed Ali Kheir of CBC said the prime minister and the justice minister must apologize.
Fouad Saad wrote: “It is alright if a son of a garbage collector dies on the border while defending the homeland and the people, including the justice minister himself, but it is not alright for him to work in the judiciary.”
Constitutional expert Nour Farhat said in a post on his personal Facebook account that if the justice minister's statement was released in a country like China, he would have been kicked out of office and assigned to collect garbage. Farhat added that if the minister stepped foot into any developing country he could be prosecuted and arrested in international courts, as his statement is an incitement to discrimination, which is a crime in many countries.