egypt

TV anchor in Egypt held for ‘defaming’ police

Khairy Ramadan aired alleged message from officer’s wife complaining about life hardships

15:40 March 4, 2018

Cairo: Egyptian prosecutors have ordered celebrated television host Khairy Ramadan be held in custody for 24 hours pending investigations on suspicion of defaming police on his talk show on state television, the official Middle East News Agency reported Sunday.

He is facing charges of spreading false news that can defame police, the agency added.

Ramadan was summoned for interrogation on Saturday in response to a legal complaint filed by the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police in Egypt.

Investigations into the case came days after President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi warned he considers any defamation of police and army forces as “high treason”.

The ministry accused Ramadan of insulting and demoralising police in a recent episode of a show he started hosting last month on the main channel of the Egyptian television.

The complaint is related to his broadcasting of what he said was a message sent to him from an unnamed police officer’s wife, who said she could not cope with high living costs with her husband’s net salary of around 4,631 Egyptian pounds (Dh968).

Ramadan quoted the woman as saying she had thought of working as a domestic helper in order to assist in supporting her family that has two children.

“We appreciate our officers’ efforts, but the figure [salary] speaks for itself,” Ramadan commented in the February 18 episode. “The police officers have the right to feel secure. Their children should be granted privileges in private [fee-paying] schools. They should also be given cuts in electricity bills.”

The episode sparked outrage among police and their families.

“The police officer belongs to one of the best categories in society,” said Rasha Kamel, who heads the non-governmental Association of Police Officers’ Wives. “He [the anchor] has ruined the morale of police officers and their families,” she added.

During the investigation, Ramadan denied his remarks were intended to underestimate police personnel, legal sources said.

He added his remarks were aimed at supporting police and their families, the sources said.

Egyptian security forces have been the target of a wave of deadly militant attacks since the army’s overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following massive street protests against him.

Last month, Egypt started a major anti-terrorism campaign mainly in North Sinai, a hotbed of extremists.