By: Alexandra Kinias —-
After his appeal was rejected earlier this week, Egyptian police arrested the hard line preacher and television anchor Abdullah Badr on the charges of slandering an actress. He was arrested after he refused to turn himself in, and will be serving one year in jail.
Badr’s story dates back to 2012 when on his show, aired on Al-Hafiz TV, an ultra-conservative Salafi television, he referred to the famous Egyptian actress Elham Chahine as an infidel and a prostitute. He called her “promiscuous, naked and lascivious,” and condemned her movies as a source to women’s immorality and adultery. The appalling accusations were not well received by the masses while were applauded by followers of the hard-core preacher. Badr’s remarks came as a response to Chahine’s criticism of radical Islamists and their rigorous views of the arts and movie industry. Chahine who was insulted and humiliated, according to her lawyer filed a lawsuit against Badr and Al-Hafiz TV.
In her lawsuit Chahine accused Badr and Al-Hafiz CEO, Atef Abdel Rashed, of incitement, spreading chaos and disturbing public security. She also involved Al Azhar University in the lawsuit since Badr claimed he was a graduate of the religious institution and a teaching professor in its University. In its defense, Al-Azhar University issued an official document, denying Badr’s claims. The fake professor never even studied there and has no license to preach. The statement came as a surprise to everyone since it questioned the qualifications of these hard-core Sheikhs.
As a reaction to Chahine’s lawsuit, Badr organized a rally where he personally handed out photoshoped porn photo of Chahine; An act that was criticized by the media and the public. But unfortunately, that’s how their sick minds operate.
Badr’s incident is not unique. The common traits of Islamist TV channels are misogyny and sexism. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the presenters sound perverts, sexists and extremely disgusting when it comes to the topics they choose to present and the manner they present it. Infatuated by female bodies and their sexual organs, they became famous as the sheiks who think with their lower body parts. Badr on the show that defamed Chahine discussed in details some of her movies, her revealing costumes, her body and intimate roles she played. On similar shows Madonna’s costumes (especially bras) were discussed.
These preachers are ambassadors of the medieval doctrine imported from an intolerant culture that resides behind the dunes of the Arabian Desert. In this culture, infected by physiological diseases that bred misogyny and chauvinism, Islam is misinterpreted according to the warped ideology of the Salafi sheikhs; the role models of Badr and his likes, who are effortlessly trying to integrate this distorted culture into the Egyptian society.
Armored by versus from the Holy book, these preachers’ vision of dominance is by suppressing women, and encouraging and supporting violence against them. Through their TV channels and mosques they spread their venom into the minds of their followers. In their sick minds women are created for sexual pleasures. They fantasize about them, loath them and fear them. Women are a source of threat and insecurity and their reason to sin, and thus need to be controlled.
Chahine’s only sin was that she is a female public figure living in a misogynist society that allows men like Badr to degrade women and mistreat them. Chahine’s courageous act opened the gate for people to rebel against these right wing conservatives, challenge them, and to demand for tolerance, acceptance and respect from them.
As the first sheikh ever to go on trial, Badr’s conviction came as a surprise to many. I am not optimistic that his jail sentence would convey a message to other ultra-conservative preachers to alter or modify their defaming dialogue used on their shows. On the contrary, it will unite them against the ‘secularist attacks’ that they believe is targeting Islam with the purpose of weakening it. However, on a more optimistic note, these charges may be the first step in the long battle for co-existence.