Several Alexandria-based rights lawyers filed a legal complaint on Saturday against an op-ed writer who wrote approvingly in an article about the killing of street children in Brazil by security forces, reported the Al-Ahram Arabic website.
In an op-ed published on Friday in Al-Masry Al-Youm daily, academic Nassar Abdullah suggested that the “solution” to the problem of street children in Egypt is to follow what he describes as the "Brazilian solution," referring to the killing of homeless children by Brazilian security forces in the 1990s.
The article was pulled from the paper’s website on the same day following a public outcry.
Lawyers Mohamed Ramadan of the Arab Network for Human Rights as well as Mohamed Maghraby, Dalia Salah and Omnia Salem of the Egyptian Institution for Raising the Status of Children have filed a legal complaint accusing Nassar of inciting murder and putting the lives of children at risk.
The lawyers also demanded Nassar is forced to pay LE1 million as compensation to street children, to be put in a fund for their protection.
Abdullah, a recipient of the state award in arts in 2009, is a professor of moral and political philosophy at Sohag University. He is also a writer and translator as well a poet.
“In the 1990s, street children in Brazil's major towns turned from a source of annoyance to a source of terror, increasingly committing crimes including rape, prostitution and murder, while the economic situation of Brazil was similar to Egypt’s present condition," wrote the academic, adding that rehabilitation of street children was costly.
"Thus the Brazilian security forces unleashed a campaign to hunt down and kill the street children like stray dogs, to avoid the dangers," he said.
"That harsh solution managed to cleanse the streets of major cities in Brazil from street children. It happened because the political leadership had the will to reform and to fight corruption as well to provide jobs. This is the lesson everyone should learn from the Brazilian experience," he wrote.
Thousands of Egyptians took to Twitter and Facebook to criticise the article, calling on the newspaper to pull the op-ed and apologise.
Estimates of the numbers of homeless children in Egypt vary considerably, but some researchers put the figure as high as one million.