Cairo: An Egyptian government minister, seen in a video saying that anyone speaking ill about Egypt will be “slit”, has said her remark was taken out of context.

Minister of Migration Nabila Makram has drawn fire on social media after she appeared in the video speaking to members of the Egyptian community, saying: “Anyone offending Egypt, what do we do to him? Slitting him” as she made a gesture pointing to beheading.

She was accused of intimidating dissenters, an accusation that the minister has vehemently denied.

“In response to members of the audience, I used a colloquial Egyptian-Arabic phrase and made a gesture that has since been taken out of context and its intentions misunderstood,” she said in a statement.

“For many in the audience, and for many Egyptians, the image of their country - particularly in the eyes of foreigners - is highly important. The phrase and gesture I used were implying that many Egyptians living abroad have strong ties to Egypt. As such, they want to protect the reputation of their homeland to the extent that they would openly challenge and want to prove wrong any false assertions made about Egypt,” she added.

“With that being said, I can understand how the phrase and gesture I made may be construed as offensive or insensitive.”

The minister, who took the post in 2015, denied that her remark was intended to incite violence against any Egyptian or foreigner.

“I would like to highlight that my statement was not targeted at any ‘dissidents’, ‘opposition’ or ‘critics as has been reported in certain media outlets. Unfortunately, a number of media outlets have not only misinterpreted my statements but have also misrepresented them to their readers, falsely claiming that I support violence,” the 49-year-old minister said.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused the Egyptian government of muzzling dissent, a charge that authorities deny.