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Report: Egypt

Egypt minister quits after judge criticism

The government of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi is under pressure.
The government of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi is under pressure. Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt's Justice Minister quit on Monday, after sparking controversy by saying that "the son of a garbage collector cannot become a judge." Minister of Justice Mahfouz Saber drew criticism for his comments, which came during a live TV discussion of the Justice Ministry's employment criteria. The government of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi is under pressure to reduce entrenched poverty and unemployment, particularly amongst Egypt's youth. It has also faced longstanding criticisms that the judiciary in particular is not independent from what is widely perceived as a dictatorial regime.

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Minister Mahfouz Saber told the TEN satellite channel on Sunday night, that anyone wishing to become a judge must grow up in what he called a "respectable" environment.

He added that a judge's "highness and position" mean that they must be from "financially and morally" respected origins.

His comments drew fire on Monday from Egyptian citizens and other politicians. Leftist former vice president Mohammed El-Baradei pointed, ironically, to a wider lack of the "concept of justice."

The lack of justice for Egypt's poor has been a key complaint for many of Egypt's 82 million citizens since the 2011 revolution, which aimed to achieve "bread, freedom and social justice."

Egypt's youth feel this most keenly, with a 2014 figure by Egypt's central statistics agency stating that almost 52 per cent of the country's youth live on or close to the poverty line.

Saber's comments also drew criticism given the perception that Egypt's judiciary fails to be truly independent from the government.

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