Egypt in TV: Highlights and low points on the talk shows

Did you know letting non-rich Egyptian kids become judges could lead them to suffer from “depression and a lot of things”?

The former minister of justice, Mahfouz Saber was there to inform you. His knowledge and concern for the psychological well-being of the poor is the reason he argued that the sons (forget daughters) of trash collectors should not join the judiciary, regardless of how academically accomplished and gifted they may be.  A judge needs to grow up in an “appropriate,” “respectable” environment, and be able to cultivate the necessary “loftiness” of judges, he told Ten TV’s Ramy Radwan. Saber's remarks ignited a media debate and led to his forced resignation. 

Prime minister Ibrahim Mehlab later told to CBC host Lamis el-Hadidi that Saber’s statement was a long slip of the tongue, and that he was actually the son of a peasant, who was lucky to continue his education. Saber then came out to say that it was not a tongue slip after all and that he stood by what he said.

“(I said that) to placate the people,” Saber all but muttered to el-Mehwar’s Mohamed Sherdy. Luckily, the poor were too busy being socially immobile to pay much attention to this back-and-forth. 

OnTV’s Ibrahim Eissa found it amusing that the sad little public didn’t know that the minister of justice has no say in the appointment of judges. It is the State Council’s job, and they should be focused on the alleged attempted assassination of a judge working on MB cases -- presumably by the MB --- rather than on the overt scorn the head of the entire judiciary just poured over the population.

Saber’s statement brought out an interesting and new side to Rola Kharsa, the TV presenter who frequently criticized the MB for “mixing religion with politics.”

“If you go back to religion ,I can simply tell you: If God willed, He would have made you a single people,” Kharsa said without further explanation, prompting one to assume that Kharsa thinks God has created people different -- and unequal, given the context -- and wants to keep it this way. This is funny because this verse (which is no. 48 from chapter 5, Surah al-Maidah) has nothing to do with social class. It is about religion and how Allah wanted to create diversity in beliefs to test humanity.

But Kharsa said that even if many might agree with the minister, it is not right for a government official to speak this way, and that individuals should be judged on their merits. 

Also mixing religion with politics this week was Rotana Masirya’s Tamer Ameen, who said that since we elected president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to run the country for us while we “sit at ahwas, smoke lots of shisha, go out a lot and don’t work a lot” rather than collectively run the country ourselves, we are religiously mandated to support him according to this Hadith: “Support your brother, whether oppressor or oppressed,” meaning when he is right back him up and when he is wrong correct him, which is another form of support -- one I don’t remember Ameen preaching for former president Mohamed Morsi, who was also elected. What’s more amusing than that is that Ameen is talking religion on Rotana of all channels. (Rotana sponsors music and broadcasts movies often laden with sexual innuendo.)

Refusing to be the only official not making classist generalizations this week, Minister of Urban Development and Slum Areas Laila Iskandar came out to blame (poor) Upper Egyptians for Egypt’s informal housing problem, as opposed to the government. She later said that she, too, is from Upper Egypt and deeply cares for the people there.

While the government told the poor to dream small, ElHayah TV’s Ahmed el-Meslamani advised the government to adopt China’s Internet censorship policy, just like he thinks France will do. The French interior minister, el-Meslamani claimed -- despite knowledge that Google is not blocked in Egypt -- said that 90 percent of terrorists today were radicalized on social media, making Facebook and Twitter the new nuclear bomb. What actually happened is that the French minister visited Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google to ask for direct cooperation with the French government. He did not give any statistics or compare these websites to weapons of mass destruction.

Sharing el-Meslamani’s disrespect for Google, Al Kahera Wal Nas’s Amany el-Khayat aired an amazing reportage about April 6 to warn Gulf states of the imaginary spread of the once-influential student protest movement, whose leader, Ahmad Maher, is in jail.

The report starts with a series of superimposed edited logos of April 6, claiming it has branches all over the world and that it is related to “Zionist Christianity, which is heralding the nearness of the apocalypse and seeks to establish The Structure.” The leading US Republicans controlling this branch of Christianity include  George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice.They chose to name the movement after the month of April, because of Passover, the regrettable day when Jews were freed from Ancient Egyptian slavery (which explains why they are targeting Egypt now). The number 6 was chosen because it is apparently important to Jews and probably because of the 2006 film The Omen, in which the spawn of Satan had the numbers 666 as a birthmark on his head to prove he was the spawn of Satan. The bottom line is that the “6” and the “April” in April 6 links it to Judaism which links it to Free Masonry. 

Meanwhile in the world of reasonable adults, the beloved political analyst and former member of parliament Amr Hamzawy kind of sold out. Hamzawy gave Khairy Ramadan a mercilessly long interview earlier this month that was so boring, one almost missed/no longer cared about his selling out. Hamzawy was one of the few liberals to publicly say that July 3 was a coup, but that was before he made his “revisions.” He fell silent when Khairy said the following: “Amr Hamzawy is not saying now that July 3 is a coup. Amr Hamzawy admits that the president of the republic Abdel Fatah el-Sisi was democratically elected.”


Hamzawy is also no longer wishes to bring down the regime. He wants to reform it from the inside and he regrets his support for the law which banned former members of the Mubarak’s dissolved ruling National Democratic Party from contesting elections.

Recent weeks have seen something of a Mubarak come-back tour, with the president and his sons being covered and quoted in the media. “Who is the first one to admit to the mistakes that we lived through in the past 30 years?”  asked Mahmoud Saad. “Mubarak,” he answered. He is the one who removed his son, Gamal Mubarak, and notoriously corrupt NDP members like Ahmed Ezz and Safwat el-Sherief from power (admittedly after putting them in power in the first place). Mubarak’s only fault was letting his son and wife rule with him, said Saad (who also at one point asked someone off camera if he was being polite enough about the former ruling family). So what is the point of this walk down Saad’s edited memory lane? It is to say that the wife and son did a poor job and that el-Sisi now is trying to save what Mubarak couldn’t. 

The only thing stranger than Saad’s logic was Wael el-Ibrashy’s awkward recent interview with Ahmed Fouad, the last king of Egypt and the son of King Farouk, in which el-Ibrashy kept asking his docile guest to tell us in his accented Arabic how much he approves of July 3 (which is arguably in bad taste, since his father was deposed by the military too) and how grateful he is to el-Sisi for giving him a diplomatic passport that says “Former King of Egypt” under occupation.