The video of Rima Karaki shutting up Hani Al-Siba’i couldn’t come at a more appropriate time for the region. Its rise in popularity happens to take place one day before International Women’s Day.
He is an Egyptian Islamist who is now residing in London after fleeing Egypt where he faces charges for the support of Islamists. He is BFF’s with Al Zarqawi and thinks Bin Laden is to be respected. He’s a pile or hypocrisy: someone who wants to implement the sharia’h… but lives in London. He’s a defense lawyer… but can’t handle an argument.
Out of all people that interviewed him over the times, Lebanese TV presenter Rima Karaki drew the thickest line. She wore a veil out of respect to his presence (even if through satellite from London), and he ended up demanding she shut up for trying to direct the conversation in a manner suitable for her TV show.
She did the opposite and cut him off right there on air, stopping him from spewing even more hate and disrespect to her and, indirectly, to Middle Eastern and Arab women everywhere.
Hani Al Siba’i is a representation of the sheikhs roaming our lands who think everyone should abide by the rules they have in mind, who think they have the right to shut up a woman just because she dared speak up and who have the audacity to not only request it, but shout it on platforms that always give them a megaphone.
In those 2 minutes, Rima Karaki did something that many women in the region are too afraid to do: stand up to a bully who happens to be protected by religious establishments and fear that allow him to thrive.
When Al Siba’i tried to intimidate her, she stood her ground and still tried to take the harness of the interview away from his monologue.
Instead, she told Al Siba’i something that probably no other woman he ever encountered has ever told him: she would be the one taking the decision.
So because this was all too weird and foreign to him, Al Siba’i reverted to what he knows best and told Rima to shut up.
So while trying to be respectful, Rima Karaki answered back. I’m sure he wasn’t used to getting that thrown in his face… ever.
So naturally, he reverted to full blown sexism and disrespect to bring Rima down. She didn’t budge. She cut his mic off and then his feed.
In those 2 minutes, Rima Karaki did what every single person, let alone women, should do to people like Al Siba’i: cut them off. I couldn’t not find myself rooting for her. There’s nothing sweeter and more beautiful seeing a woman standing up to someone like him in that manner, someone who hates women and contributes every single day to their detriment.
If I were her, I would have thrown away the veil too, just as the Egyptian anchor did a couple of years ago (link).
Ironically, in those 2 minutes NewTV produced the best TV in their history. This is the full video:
On March 8th, 2015 this is the view across the Middle East and Arab world:
- Women in Lebanon are not allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children. They are not protected by a decent law against domestic abuse.
- Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to have authority over their own self; their male relatives do. They cannot go anywhere without male chaperones. They are not allowed to run for any government body that is allowed to legislate. They are not allowed to drive. They aren’t allowed to go out without wearing appropriate religious attire.
- Women in Jordan are still the victims of rampant domestic violence and honor killings.
- Women in the U.A.E. can face jail time if they are ever caught engaging in pre-marital sex, or drinking.
- Women in Egypt are still the victims of female circumcision, a barbaric practice whose sole purpose is to decrease their sexual drive.
- Women in Kuwait and Qatar cannot pass their citizenships to their children. They’ve also only recently, and very limitedly, started to try and become more engaged in the political life of their country.
- Women in Iraq are being forced, in some parts of the country, to wear head scarves and traditional abayas to cover up. Their political presence only stems from the quota required to be filled by women according to law there.
We live in the region with the world’s highest gender gap.
And what is common between all those countries is that the value of women is always contingent upon the integrity of their hymen, their worth relative to the purity of their bodies, their purpose in life is to breed and procreate, but rarely produce, and never, ever, stand up to religious authority without facing repercussions.
If there’s anything to empower Arab and Middle Eastern women this year around, it’s this. It’s standing up to those who contribute to those women not having rights, who bring them down every time they try to stand up to themselves, who think that “woman” is an insult, who think women should shut up when a man is speaking and who are given a religious cloak to make all their poison holy.