By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: TV hostess Dina Abdel-Rahman was sacked on Sunday shortly after she defended the integrity of a columnist, who criticized a member of the ruling army council, live on TV.
During the episode of the “Sabah Dream” show, strategic security expert Abdel-Moniem Qato fiercely criticized Abdel-Rahman for reviewing a column by prominent writer Naglaa Bedeir that slammed controversial statements made earlier by the head of the army’s central zone Major General Hassan El-Rowainy.
“At 11.10, about 10 minutes after the show was over, independent Dream TV owner Ahmed Bahgat summoned Abdel-Rahman at his office and fired her, saying another hostess will present the show tomorrow,” the show’s producer Jihane Aboul-Ella told Daily News Egypt.
“The meeting took like three minutes and Dina did not comment, while I and my three colleagues who produce the show decided to stop working for the channel until she regains her job,” Aboul-Ella added.
In her column published in daily independent El-Tahrir newspaper, Bedeir described El-Rowainy’s stance towards the revolutionaries’ demands as being similar to the official rhetoric during the 18 days that led to the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.
She wrote that El-Rowainy believed that whoever adopted a view different from his either had a foreign agenda or suspicious ties. Her comments were based on his telephone interview with the same show one day earlier.
“Why do you refer to her statements? She is a subversive,” Qato told Abdel-Rahman Sunday morning.
Abdel-Rahman defended the integrity of and professionalism of Bedeir, saying El-Rowainy talked for about an hour and any journalist had the right to express his or her opinion towards his statements.
“The armed forces is now trying to teach the people the [basics] of democracy, giving everybody the chance to express their views. But an opinion has to be objective and entail some kind of transparency,” Qato said, accusing Bedeir of defaming El-Rowainy.
Qato further accused two presidential hopefuls of having suspicious ties with the US, declining to mention their names.
Neither did he present any proof of his claims, saying they were assumptions.
He further alleged that April 6 Youth Movement has similar ties to the US.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had released a statement on Saturday accusing April 6 Movement of having foreign ties as well as inciting the people against the army.
Such accusations fueled an earlier call for a march from Tahrir square to the defense ministry. On the way, the military police prevented thousands of protesters from moving forward as armed men attacked the demonstrators in Abbasiya.
Hours before the march, El-Rowainy told Abdel-Rahman on air that the protesters would be moving towards the area while carrying Molotov cocktails and weapons.
Amongst his other contentious comments, El-Rowainy said he was the source of rumors in Tahrir during the mass protests that ousted the regime, to give an example of how words would have an impact on the people.
“When I wanted to calm down the square, I would spread a rumor that [businessman and ex-ruling party member] Ahmed Ezz was arrested and referred to a criminal court … that the interior minister was detained,” El-Rowainy said.
“I knew how to cool off the [protesters in] square and how to incite them,” he added.
He further said that on Feb. 10, one day before Mubarak stepped down, he went to the square and falsely told protesters: “All your demands have been met.”
ON TV’s renowned host Yousri Fouda denounced on Twitter the measures Bahgat took against Abdel-Rahman.
“What happened today did not even happen this way during the era of Mubarak. How would it occur now during a revolution?” Aboul-Ella asked.
“The way the channel dealt with the situation brings us back to the old times of persecution,” she added.
The rerun of Abdel-Rahman’s Sunday episode didn’t feature the segment that witnessed the argument between Abdel-Rahman and Qato.
Sacking Abdel-Rahman caused an outcry on the social networking sites. Several pages were created to show solidarity with her while others called for boycotting the channel as well as the products manufactured by the owner’s factories.
Journalist and TV host Ahmed El-Moslemany said on his Twitter account Sunday evening that the issue has been resolved and Abdel-Rahman was to host the show the following morning as usual.
“El-Moslemany has been mediating between Bahgat and Adel-Rahman in a bid to resolve the situation. But no results have been announced yet,” Aboul-Ella said.
Abdel-Rahman and Bahgat weren’t immediately available for comment.