Egypt’s military judicial authorities demanded that the parliamentary immunity of Ziad El-Eleimy be lifted, after he allegedly branded the country’s de facto ruler a “donkey”, state-run news agency MENA reported on Tuesday.
“We are now studying the military judicial request to take appropriate legal measures,” an unnamed justice ministry source was quoted as saying.
El-Eleimy’s immunity must be lifted if he is to be summoned for questioning over his scathing criticism of Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
The MP's comments about the ruling military council in February caused an outcry in parliament, after he referenced a famous Egyptian proverb in which Tantawi was allegedly characterised as a “donkey,” considered a grave insult in Arabic culture.
El-Eleimy has staunchly defended his statements, stressing that his use of the proverb was simply meant to imply that the military council should be held accountable for its perceived mismanagement of Egypt's post-revolution political transition, and for its failure to prevent the violence at a football match at Port Said Stadium on 1 February, which left dozens dead.
Further stirring controversy, El-Eleimy also allegedly referred to influential Salafist preacher Mohamed Hassan as a "vegetable seller," contentiously asserting that "not everyone with a beard should be regarded as a sheikh."
El-Eleimy has since told parliament that he had personally visited Hassan, who, the MP said, had accepted his comments as legitimate political disagreement.