Transitional justice minister to take charge at justice ministry temporarily

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 May 2015

Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber has resigned over comments widely criticised for being elitist

Transitional Justice Minister Ibrahim El-Heneidy
Transitional Justice Minister Ibrahim El-Heneidy (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Transitional Justice Minister Ibrahim El-Heneidy will head the Ministry of Justice until the appointment of a new minister, following the resignation of the justice minister on Monday after comments he made were widely criticised as classist.

A new minister of justice will be appointed as soon as Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab returns from Paris on Wednesday, the premier told presenter Lamis El-Hadidi on CBC channel Monday night.

Mahfouz had on Sunday instigated a public outcry when he made comments suggesting that individuals from poorer backgrounds are not fit to hold positions deemed important by the authorities such as judges.

In a live interview on CBC, then-justice minister Mahfouz Saber was asked if he thought the son of a garbage collector should be appointed as a judge.

Saber said that judges must come “from a social class suited to the job, with all due respect to garbage collectors.”

"A judge should come from a social class that is neither too high nor too low," he added.

The minister said he appreciated any garbage collector who had raised a son to graduate with a law degree, but said that he believed that if his son became a judge he would "become depressed" and wouldn't be able to continue in the position.

A hashtag "dismiss the justice minister" immediately went viral on social media outlets after Mahfouz made his comments.

Certain Egyptian public institutions mandate background checks on the social and legal status of the families of applicants to general prosecution positions, the judiciary and diplomatic core, and police and military colleges.

A controversy over these rules and others perceived by some as anti-equal opportunity regulations has been brewing for several months.

In the autumn of 2014, Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council, a body responsible for appointing prosecutors and judges, issued a ruling that only the children of university graduates could apply to work for the general prosecution.

The court, therefore, rejected a law suit filed by 138 applicants to prosecutors' jobs because their parents lacked college qualifications.

The plaintiffs have been waging a public campaign since the court ruling to attract attention to their cause. 

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