When Lebanese news anchor Rima Karaki was told by a London-based Islamist cleric to `shut up’, and that it was `beneath’ him to be interviewed by her, she knew just what to do.
She held up her hand, told him she was in charge and that he should show her some respect - then cut off his live video link. Cue applause and messages of support from across the globe after footage of her standing up to sexism went viral online.
Her opponent Hani Al Sibai is a controversial figure and suspected terrorist, who hailed the 2005 London bombings as a `great victory’ for Al Qaida on the day after the carnage. He was appearing on Lebanon’s Al Jadeed station from London to discuss reports of Christians joining Islamist terror groups.
When he veered off on an historical tangent, Karaki asked him to `focus on the present’. But Al Sibai became angry and replied: `Listen, don’t cut me off. I will answer as I please.’
Karaki attempted to warn him of the time constraints of the interview, but he only became even more aggressive. At that point, she was forced to slap him down, saying: `In this studio, I run the show.’ Al Sibai replied: `Are you done? Shut up so I can talk. It’s beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a woman who...’
Still managing to keep her cool, Karaki held up her hand and ended the exchange.... `How can a respected shaikh like yourself tell a TV host to shut up?’ she said. `Either there is mutual respect, or the conversation is over.’...The cameras then switched back to the studio, leaving Al Sibai in the dark. Karaki, who is also an author and university professor, later posted the conversation on her Twitter page. It caught the imagination of social media users as they marked International Women’s Day on Sunday.
Now the footage has had more than 2.4 million views on YouTube. Karaki has also won a number of awards including `Best Media Figure’ in 2012. Al Sibai has been convicted in his homeland Egypt of plotting terrorist attacks.
He was refused asylum in Britain in the 1990s after the security services concluded he was a senior member of terror group Egyptian Islamic Jihad, former power-base of Osama Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman...Al Zawahiri. He denies this and remains in London after efforts to deport him failed.