CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian minister who was filmed telling a crowd of Egyptian expatriates in Canada that critics of the country should be “chopped” said on Friday that her words had been taken out of context and she did not intend to promote violence.
A recording of Monday’s event posted to social media showed Emigration Minister Nabila Makram gesturing at her neck with her hand to mime the slitting of a throat as she tells the crowd in Arabic that anyone who speaks badly about Egypt should be “chopped”.
The comment drew a wave of criticism on social media.
Opposition journalist Gamal Sultan tweeted that the minister “must be sacked and referred to an investigation”.
Alaa Mubarak, the elder son of former president Hosni Mubarak, described the minister’s comments as “irresponsible”. “It should not have been said, even in spontaneity or unintentionally because it gets used by those who are waiting to harm Egypt,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
In comments posted on the ministry’s Facebook page before she returned home on Friday, Makram wrote that she had “used a colloquial Egyptian-Arabic phrase and made a gesture that has since been taken out of context and its intentions misunderstood”.
“I can understand how the phrase and gesture I made may be construed as offensive or insensitive. I would like to stress that my intention was not to promote violence towards any Egyptian or foreigner,” she added.
Rights groups accuse President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of presiding over an unprecedented campaign to silence critics and opponents. Sisi, a former army general, came to power in 2014 after he led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi following protests against Mursi’s one year in office.
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Peter Graff)