Egyptian presenter Yasmine Ezz accused of promoting women's subjugation

Yasmine Ezz regularly causes controversy with videos urging women to be more obedient to their husbands

Yasmine Ezz, Egyptian television presenter. Photo: @yasminezzmbc / Instagram
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Two of Egypt’s top women’s rights authorities have filed legal complaints against a television presenter on a private Saudi Arabian channel for content that they say promotes violence against women.

Prominent women’s rights activist Nehad Abol Komsan, who heads the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, on Wednesday published a photo of the official complaint she filed with the country’s prosecutor general against MBC presenter Yasmine Ezz, whose statements about women’s role in the home put her at odds with Egypt’s feminist groups.

Ezz presents a nightly talk show on MBC Masr, Kalam El Nas (or Talk of the People) during which she interviews celebrities and discusses social issues. The 34-year-old presenter has repeatedly stirred up controversy with unsolicited advice on her talk show urging women to be more obedient to their husbands and continually asserting that women’s rights movements have gone too far and are destroying the family unit.

In one episode, she told viewers: "When did we forget to glorify our husbands? If your husband is named Mohamed, you can't just call him Mohamed, you have to call him Mr Mohamed."

In another episode, she urges wives to use their "winter voices" on their husbands, which by her own description denotes a "surrender to your husband that makes him feel that there is an innocence about you that you haven't lost".

Her comments are repeatedly criticised by those she interviews, most of whom are prominent celebrities.

In the complaint, Ms Abol Komsan, known for a moderate, religious brand of feminism that is much more palatable to Egypt’s conservative populace than more extreme takes on the subject, called on the National Council for Women (NCW), a state-affiliated centre for women’s rights, and the Journalists’ Syndicate to step in and halt broadcasting of Ezz’s show in Egypt.

NCW president Maya Morsy on Tuesday made a sharply critical social media post addressing “a female trend journalist on a non-Egyptian channel” in which she urged her to consider that what she broadcasts is being heard by a new generation of impressionable young men and women whose respect for each other could be seriously affected by it.

But Ezz was named in an official complaint filed by the NCW and submitted to the Egyptian Ministry of Information calling for the halting of her show in Egypt.

“Your children and grandchildren will see your statements and they will not be proud,” Ms Morsy wrote on Facebook. “Content published in the electronic sphere is a permanent mark on your person that will never go away.”

Ms Morsy urged her unnamed presenter to practise better journalistic ethics and called on the network who hosts her show to stop broadcasting “these kinds of jokes that cannot be called journalism”. She said that she believes the presenter says such things only to be shocking and to go viral on social media.

Later on Tuesday, Ezz made a scathing post of her own on her official Facebook page.

There she argued that she had the right to present what she thinks is correct on her talk show and that she knew and was proud that her children would see her show because “I say what I say to preserve the family unit”.

“I grew up in a stable family built on mutual respect and morality and I have always pledged to promote those values as a journalist,” Ezz wrote, “I am proud to be Egyptian. My society taught me these values and I have preserved them.”

Ms Morsy and Ms Abol Komsan’s positions on Ezz were backed by prominent members of Egypt’s arts world, including screenwriter Medhat El Adl, who applauded Ms Morsy in a Facebook post for “standing up to someone trying to send women back to the era of the harem”.

But there were those who defended Ezz too, including director Omar Zahran, who chastised Ms Morsy in a Wednesday Facebook post. He said Ezz is “merely promoting more respect between a man and his wife”.

Updated: January 11, 2023, 10:02 PM