Egypt’s Justice Minister resigns over classist comments

Egyptian Justice Minister resigns on Monday over what were described as ‘classist comments’ saying "sons of janitors cannot be judges"

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Egyptian Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber, has resigned after he said during a TV interview that “sons of janitors cannot not be judges.”

A wave of angry tweets swept social media in Egypt, with hashtags demanding the minister be removed from his post.

Saber’s comments angered Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed Elbaradei, who said in a tweet following the incident “The International Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right equally with others to access public service positions in his country. When losing the concept of justice for the nation there is nothing left.”

A hashtag which has become popular on both Twitter and Facebook since Sunday demanded “Fire the justice minister,” and a popular statement which accompanied the hashtag was “if there are janitors, we’ll live in filth however if there are no judges in Egypt, we’ll probably have more justice.”

Egyptian media compared the influence of the twitter hashtag that pushed the minister to resign to the January 25 revolution in 2011, confirming "the capability" of the Egyptian people to employ social media to induce social change.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said there is no apparent replacement for Saber at the moment, and urged all ministers and public officials to speak more responsibly with respect to their position and influence.

Speculations around Judge Ibrahim Al Henidy replacing Saber temporarily still yet to be confirmed. Al Henidy already replaced Saber once in March when Saber had a medical crises.

However, judge Saber insisted he did nothing wrong. In an interview with Al Masry Al Youm newspaper he insisted his comments were “true”, and added “not only the judicial system I’m referring to, also the police and the military, sons of janitors should not be in it, a judge should be at least from middle class.”

Saber said that the media cloud surrounding him will pass, and that “everyone will find something else to complain about.” However he claimed that he meant no disrespect to janitors, and was merely pointing out an unspoken fact.