Judge Ahmed Al-Zind was sworn in as the new Justice Minister, officially replacing the much-criticised Mahfouz Saber, who resigned over public outrage due to classist comments he made last week.
Al-Zind took the oath of office before President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the Itihadiya Palace on Wednesday morning, with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb in attendance.
Minister of Transitional Justice Ibrahim El-Heneidi served as interim minister of justice from Sunday until Al-Zind’s appointment.
Al-Zind, 69, will replace Saber, who resigned on 11 May following major outcry over comments he made regarding rubbish collectors’ sons being unfit to occupy the position of a judge.
At the first cabinet meeting that Al-Zind attended, Mehleb congratulated him on the appointment Wednesday, while thanking Saber for his efforts, state media reported.
“A judge has his own special position, hence he should be coming from a more respectful environment, financially and mentally,” Saber had said on a TV show a day before his resignation.
“With all due respect to the rubbish man, but if he works in the judiciary he will be depressed, and won’t be able to continue,” Saber said, eventually adding that the rubbish collector should work in another “suitable” job.
After the show’s footage went viral on social media and local news outlets, angry reactions described the minister’s statements as “flawed” and “classist”.
However, Al-Zind previously made comments comparable to Saber’s in 2012, whereby he compared appointing the sons of judges in the judiciary to a “holy march”, according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, suggesting that they are fulfilling their duty.
The new minister said, after taking the oath, that that there will be a fixed policy in dealing with the media, whereby it will be presented with all the files he will tackle after taking office.
He also thanked Al-Sisi for his trust in him, and said: “I hope I’m worthy of this trust.”
Al-Zind was known for being a strong dissident to the Muslim Brotherhood during their one year in power. He is also known for being an advocate for the judiciary’s exclusivity and against its reform movements.
The veteran judge has, since 2009, been twice elected as the Judges’ Club’s head, the union that represents the judiciary. He replaced reformist Zakaria Abdel Aziz, and subsequently quelled a movement amongst the judiciary in the Mubarak-era, entitled “The Independence Current”, which sought independence from the executive power.
“He was appointed by the [Mubarak] regime to hit the Independence Current,” said political analyst and Mubarak-era opposition figure Hassan Nafa’a.
“It is shocking to many,” Hassan Nafa’a told Daily News Egypt, commenting on the appointment of Al-Zind.
Nafa’a said that placing Al-Zind as Justice Minister confirms that the “counter revolution rules”.
“Those who took over the 30 June revolution are the interest groups that relate to the old [Mubarak] regime,” he explained.