Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram has told an audience in Mississauga, Ont., that anyone speaking “against Egypt abroad” will be “punished.”
A video of Makram’s comments last Sunday shows her making a slicing motion across her neck while making the remark.
The audience of mainly Egyptian expatriates responded to Makram’s words with laughter and applause.
Makram said in her talk, “We only have one country: Egypt … and we cannot bear any negative word about it abroad.”
The video has gone viral after independent Egyptian journalist Mohamed Nasr posted a copy of it on Twitter. Nasr says an anonymous source who attended the event sent him the clip.
Some Egyptians in Canada are incensed by Makram’s words, pointing to the current Egyptian regime’s human rights abuses against political dissidents, many of whom now live abroad, says Mohamed Kamel, co-founder of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy, an opposition group critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
“We consider that a direct threat,” says Kamel. “We’re assuming that her comments were aimed at all Egyptians around the world.”
Human Rights Watch estimates 60,000 people have been arrested as political prisoners since el-Sisi came to power in 2013 through a coup.