Skip to main content

Egypt has 'abandoned justice' with call for slaughter of opponents: HRW

Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind said he wants 10,000 Muslim Brotherhood members to die for each member of the armed forces killed
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood hold up a picture of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, who has been sentenced to death (AFP)

Human Rights Watch has called on the Egyptian president to condemn his justice minister over controversial comments about the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing the government of “abandoning any pretence of justice”.

Ahmed al-Zind said in an interview with satellite television channel Sada al-Balad in late January that he would "not be satisfied until 10,000 Brotherhood members were killed for every martyr" from the armed forces and the police.

"That a high government official charged with overseeing the rule of law would go on TV and appear to encourage the slaughter of political opponents shows how some members of the Egyptian government have abandoned any pretence of justice," HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson said.

"The fact that Egyptian security forces have already committed mass killings of Brotherhood supporters, while judges have sentenced hundreds of others to death in mass trials, means that Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind's threat is very real," she added.

HRW urged President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to condemn the remarks, saying they "add to a national climate already dominated by anti-Brotherhood rhetoric from state officials and prominent media figures."

Sisi, who as army chief ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, has overseen a police crackdown that has killed hundreds of supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

HRW says that on 14 August 2013 police killed at least 817 pro-Morsi demonstrators in central Cairo in what "likely amounted to crimes against humanity".

Since then thousands of Morsi supporters have also been jailed, while many including the ousted president have been sentenced to death or lengthy jail terms.

The Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest political opposition force for decades, has been blacklisted as a "terrorist group" and its assets confiscated.

Since Morsi's overthrow, hundreds of policemen and soldiers have also been killed in what militants say is retaliation.

The authorities blame the Brotherhood for carrying out attacks on security forces, but the group has always denied supporting violence.

Experts and rights group say that Sisi has installed a regime that is more repressive than that of long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in 2011, with a police crackdown targeting not just Morsi supporters but also secularists and leftist activists.