What Rima Karaki has to say about that interview

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Wednesday 11 March 2015 11:30
Celebrities

No one knew it at the time, but cutting the microphone of the rude male scholar she was interviewing on Lebanese TV would send Rima Karaki viral.

The Al Jadeed TV host had been interviewing Hani al-Seba’i, a Sunni Muslim scholar and lawyer, about reports of Christians joining Isis when he suddenly told her to "shut up" as she interjected to ask him a question.

After a heated exchange, in which he said it was "beneath me to be interviewed by you", she explained that "in this studio, I run the show" and promptly ended the segment. The rest, as they say, is history.

Speaking to the Guardian, after the video of the interview racked up over six million views on YouTube, Karaki said she had to answer because he had disrespected her on air.

Had I not answered, I would have hated myself, and I don’t want to hate myself. When he said shut up, it was no longer possible to shut up because I would be insulting myself and would lose everything.

The host has been hailed by women's rights groups for standing up to the scholar and setting an example in what is otherwise a patriarchal society, but for Kiraki it was not about making a political point, it was about ethics.

I don’t know if perhaps if it was a man, he would not have told him to shut up, but I took it as being disrespectful, whether it was with a woman or if he was a sheikh or whatever his background is. To me it has nothing to do with religion, or political line, it has to do with manners and ethics.

Al-Seba’i, who only agreed to the interview on the basis that the host wore a veil, has demanded an apology from the station for portraying him as a fundamentalist.

In an open letter, he explained that the "delirious" Kiraki had been speaking "as if a demon had taken over her".

Kiraki told the Guardian she now intends to raise the issue of female journalists being pressured into wearing the veil in interviews.

Some people think men have a birthright to exert control over women, but there are a lot of women now who are breaking this image and a lot of men who support this, although more so for women because we have a patriarchal society.

I don’t feel like a hero, I feel like any man or woman with self-respect.

Watch the interview in full here:

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