Lebanese TV female host hailed after halting interview with ‘disrespectful’ sheikh – with 5m views

Lebanese TV female host hailed after halting interview with ‘disrespectful’ sheikh – with 5m views

TV host Rima Karaki has become an online sensation after abruptly ending interview with an Islamist sheikh who had told her to shut up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2015, 10:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2015, 10:21pm

When Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki cut off the microphone after her guest, Hani Sibai, an Islamist sheikh, ordered her to “be silent”, little did she expect the video would become a viral sensation around the world.

Supporters online have hailed her for standing up for women’s rights and against a patriarchal religious establishment that sought to subjugate them. But for Karaki herself, it was a simple question of self-respect.

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

During the television interview, Karaki, donning a veil at Sibai’s request, asked her guest a question about how Islamic State managed to attract Christians to its ranks, after reports emerged that two had joined the militant group. Sibai then launched into a historical monologue that the anchor felt was not relevant to the question.

“I asked him to focus on the current era so we don’t lose time,” she said.

“This caused him to get angry and he thought I was cutting him off, and I tried to calm him down and tell him not to be angry, and that I want to get the most out of your presence in the programme. I told him it’s up to you.”

Sibai got angrier, telling his host that he could say whatever he wanted, and told her to be silent. When she asked him how a “respectable sheikh could tell an anchor to shut up” and said she was in charge of the show, he said he was respectable regardless of her view and that he considered it dishonourable to be interviewed on her programme.

Karaki stopped the interview after three minutes, saying: “Just one second. Either there is mutual respect or the conversation is over.” And she cut off his microphone.

“The studio is like a courtroom, someone has to moderate the conversation. The only difference is that it’s not in the core of my profession to judge people,” Karaki said.

She said she brought Sibai on the programme because she believed in dialogue regardless of the individual’s background.

“But it’s my job to moderate the conversation, and I felt it was my right to say that I was in charge and I decide what the subject is, and that it could not go on this way,” she said.

“He decided to speak in a disrespectful manner and I had to cut off the interview.”

A version of the segment with English subtitles, posted a few days before International Women’s Day, has had more than 5 million views on YouTube.

Sibai published a letter on his Twitter feed demanding an apology from al-Jadeed, Karaki’s TV station. He said the channel was biased because it attempted to portray him as a fundamentalist and a friend of the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri .

“As if the friendship of Dr Zawahiri is an insult!” he said in the letter. “But I am proud of it and every Muslim is proud of it! But they mentioned it as slander.”

The London-based sheikh said that when he told the anchor to be silent, it was as if “a demon took over her”. He said she spoke “deliriously”.

Karaki said she did not want to blame Sibai’s behaviour on sexism, saying she could not discern his intent – only that he was being disrespectful to her.

“I can’t go into a person’s inner intent, but what I do know is that the tone was very authoritarian, but maybe this is the way he talks, and his overreaction was inexplicable,” she said.

“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.”

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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