Justice Minister’s torture comments prompt walkout

Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky’s comments supporting government-sanctioned torture prompted a walkout by activists and professors during a ministerial meeting Tuesday.  

Mekky said recent torture allegations against President Mohamed Morsy’s government were not “crimes of the regime,” prompting several attendees, including American University in Cairo Professors Naglaa Rezq and Khaled Fahmy, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights head Hossam Bahgat and activist Amr Gharbiya to withdraw from the meeting.

Rezq criticized Mekky, saying, “We didn’t come to attend a lecture on torture and [a promotion] for the protest law. We came to discuss the law on the circulation of information, which didn’t happen after half an hour.”

“What we heard today from the minister is much worse than statements from officials during the Mubarak era,” Bahgat said. “Mekky criticized NGOs and the media. He [said] the only problem the government faces is from those who earn their living creating lies. He also added that media promoted lies and the [falsification] of events.”

“We tried to respond to the minister’s accusations,” he added. “Amr al-Leithy [from Mehwar satellite channel] rejected generalizing the minister’s accusations against all media channels. We, activists, assured him that six [people] were tortured in police stations after President Mohamed Morsy took over power. We were surprised by the minister’s insistence that this was great progress in comparison to previous eras.”

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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