Egyptian MP who called for student virginity tests apologises for 'misunderstanding': Source

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 7 Feb 2017

MP Ilhami Agina has been investigated by the parliamentary ethics committee; he explained he had not meant to insult Egyptian women

Parliament
Members of the Egyptian parliament attend the opening session at the main headquarters of Parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016. (Reuters)

The parliamentary ethics committee finished Monday investigating independent MP Ilhami Agina, who caused controversy last year when he praised FGM and said Egyptian women should face "virginity tests" before being allowed to enroll at university.

The committee, led by head of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, indicated that Agina faced two accusations: issuing a number of public insults against women, and demanding that girls who want to join university must face virginity tests first.

Sources said Agina told the committee that his statements which were published and broadcast by the media were not meant to insult Egyptian women.

"They were just meant to keep public morals in Egypt intact, help families monitor the manners and conduct of their daughters, and stem the tide of customary marriages on university campuses," Agina was quoted as saying by the source, adding that "if any of my statements were misunderstood, I apologise for them because they were never meant to direct insults to women.”

In August last year Agina told reporters that the country needed female genital mutilation, a widespread though banned practice, because the country’s men were too “sexually weak” to control women without such measures.

In October he made the comment about virginity tests for students, arguing that the practice could stem the tide of urfi marriages on campus. Urfi marriages are civil unions that are not registered by the state. Although legal, they are considered improper by many due to their usually secretive nature.

Hassan Bassiouny, a member of the ethics committee, told reporters that a report on the result of the investigation will be submitted to parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, to be discussed in a plenary session.

Mohamed Akl, another member of the ethics committee, told reporters that a report on the investigation of MP Anwar El-Sadat will be also presented to the speaker.

Akl said after the ethics committee had investigated Sadat on Sunday, he said he wanted to be questioned by the prosecutor-general because he does not trust the committee.

"El-Sadat has the right to defend himself but it is the committee which has the final say whether he should be investigated by the prosecutor-general," said Akl.

Sadat told reporters on Sunday evening that he had told parliament's ethics committee that he does not trust its members. "It is a sub-committee – rather than the 15-member ethics committee - which has investigated me, and "as a result I said it is the prosecutor-general who should question me in order for the investigation to be complete and transparent."

El-Sadat faced two accusations: leaking a government-drafted NGO law to foreign embassies in Egypt without prior approval from parliament, and faking signatures of some MPs in support of an independent NGO law which he had drafted.

In a public statement last week, a defiant El-Sadat took everyone by surprise when he accused the parliament speaker of misspending EGP 18 million in public funds on buying three "armoured cars."

El-Sadat said Sunday that parliament's ethics committee acts "like a judge and antagonist at the same time."

"They want to tarnish my image in the eyes of all Egyptians and as this has become a matter of public opinion, I request that prosecutor-general take charge of investigating me," he said.

 

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