Egyptian court orders TV station to pay $60,000 to model for derogatory comments

Ruling against Al Nahar TV hailed as a landmark step for women's rights

Cairo Economic Court imposed a one-million Egyptian pound fine on Al Nahar TV channel after a presenter made derogatory comments towards Merhan Keller, 30, on his live television show in June 2019. Pawan Singh / The National 
Cairo Economic Court imposed a one-million Egyptian pound fine on Al Nahar TV channel after a presenter made derogatory comments towards Merhan Keller, 30, on his live television show in June 2019. Pawan Singh / The National 

An Egyptian model was awarded $60,000 (Dh220,365) in a payout for derogatory comments made about her on television.

Cairo Economic Court imposed a one million Egyptian pound fine on Al Nahar TV channel after presenter Tamer Amin made derogatory comments about Merhan Keller, 30, on his live television show in June 2019.

Amin likened Keller to Egyptian actor Mohammad Ramadan during the Akher Al Nahar chat-show he was hosting.

It has been a great victory for women and will hopefully lead to positive change in Egypt

Merhan Keller

In December Amin was handed a suspended two-year jail sentence and ordered to pay compensation of 40,000 pounds ($2,550) after a Cairo judge ruled his comments were slanderous, insulting and of a sexual nature.

The TV channel has also now been fined, with the penalty awarded to Keller as compensation.

Keller, who was based in Dubai for years before moving to San Francisco, said the ruling would give more women the confidence to report cases of verbal abuse and harassment.

“The $60,000 is nothing compared to the amount I have lost after I had to leave the UAE because of the episode, what matters is that this was a final ruling,” she told The National.

“It has sent a strong message. We have lived for too long believing that this kind of behaviour is normal and just something we have to endure because we are women.

“This was a great surprise, but it has been a great victory for women and will hopefully lead to positive change in Egypt.”

Egypt's MeToo Movement

Egyptian television anchor Tamer Amin made derogatory comments about Dubai-model Merhan Keller, 28, during a live television show on June 24. YouTube
Tamer Amin made derogatory comments about Merhan Keller, 28, during a live show. YouTube

The incident occurred while Egypt was hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

Keller, whose full name is Merhan Hisham Abdel Qader, made headlines at the time for sharing lewd comments sent to her by star footballer Amr Warda during the football tournament – for which Warda publicly apologised.

Keller was subject to a vicious social media hate campaign with the matter discussed by Amin during his television show broadcast by Al Nahar TV to millions of people.

In January 2020, Amin told The National he was merely covering the comments of Warda in a news report and defended his actions.

He said public figures had to accept criticism, even if it was “hot and sarcastic”.

The incident became Egypt’s MeToo moment and encouraged other women in Egypt to reveal their experiences of abuse on social media.

Many offered Keller support, adding encouraging video messages online accompanied by the hashtags “speakup” and “womenempowerment”.

“Having to endure this as a woman living for so long in a patriarchal system has not been easy,” said Keller, who plans to return to the UAE.

“I have felt isolated, misunderstood, hated and blamed for the national team losing a football match.

“I am so grateful that the judicial system has seen this as a severe violation of our rights.

“Women feel more empowered now in the country to stand up for themselves with the law on their side. It has happened at a crucial time in Egypt.”

Updated: April 8, 2021 12:23 PM

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