Famous Arab sexual harassers often get away with horrendous crimes by using their money, power, and media to their advantage.
Dubai-based model Merhan Keller knows that all too well having exposed Egyptian footballer Amr Warda last year. The 28-year-old shared screenshots of texts the footballer sent her and they all featured sexual advances, pushy language, and revolting aggressive responses. Keller's courage led tens of Warda's victims to speak up and that didn't go down too well with some of the player's misogynistic supporters, including Egyptian TV presenter Tamer Amin.
The model is suing Amin, claiming 1.4 million dirhams ($381,000) in damages over insults he hurled at her during an episode of his show Akher El Nahar. The case against the TV presenter is due to be heard at Nasr City Misdemeanor Court in Cairo on Jan. 30.
Keller told StepFeed that she decided to take legal action for two main reasons. One is to fight for her rights through the appropriate means, two is to set an example for women everywhere that they are far from weak and can win back their rights.
The successful model also blasted Amin for using up 25 minutes of his hour-long show to belittle what she had gone through and humiliate her.
"TV presenters have a huge responsibility, they are in every home and they must educate people and be fair. He attacked me without a single proof or knowledge of the incident, he didn't see my phone or my opponent's but he decided to swing at me to gain views and because he didn't expect I will fight back," she told us.
Keller explained that Amin's offensive rant took a toll on her successful career, finances, and also affected her family, landing her mother in the hospital. Despite these hardships, she remains adamant on fighting against Amin and misogynists like him. When asked why that is, she said:
"Sexual harassment is a beast and there is nothing wrong in defending ourselves. We need to empower each other and encourage one another to speak up and take legal action. Everything starts with a step towards the right path. We don't live in a jungle. This is a society and the stress we have for simply going to work or taking public transportation is outrageous. How can we work and study and excel if we can't even have peace. The only solution is to take this seriously, speak up against it, spread awareness, take legal action against the harasser and never back down."
Amin vilely attacked and mocked Keller on his show
In an episode aired back in June, Amin displayed an image of Keller, likened her looks to Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan, and questioned why anyone would "sexually harass a woman who looked like her."
He also suggested that the model "had been harassing Egyptian footballers during a pre-tournament training camp."
The TV host's unacceptable tirade was insulting to Keller and every woman who has ever experienced sexual harassment. From belittling her to making fun of her looks and even addressing her as if she were a man, his comments were simply revolting.
"When they showed me her (Keller's) photo, I asked if they were kidding and they responded saying she was a model. A model! She's more like a number of models," he said.
"I imagine that this Merhan was happy with the texts she was sent. She got excited that finally someone sent her something and so she made a big deal out of it," he added.
Amin says he's shocked by the lawsuit
Speaking to The National, Amin denied all the allegations put forth by Keller despite the fact that his words are on record. The presenter claimed he was simply reporting news of the model's exposition of Warda and is shocked she is taking legal action against him.
"I have tackled the issue only as media coverage. I strongly criticized the related issues during Egypt's participation in the African Cup of Nations. It was a very important tournament being hosted in Egypt, and Amr Warda was one of the most important players," he said, explaining why he chose to defend the sexual harasser on his show.
"I may have spoken sarcastically, but that was within the permissible media criticism and analysis which included neither insults nor defamation. It would have been defamation if I had mentioned her or posted a photo of her for no reason, but she was the one who spread the news by publishing the posts from Warda," he added.
The TV host ended his statement by saying that "public figures have to accept criticism, even if it is sarcasm." The problem is that his words constituted nothing other than a biased attack on a victim of harassment.
Exposing Warda left Keller open to misogynist trolls
In the weeks after Keller exposed Warda, the model received death threats on social media and was targeted by online trolls. Some football fans also blamed her for Egypt's early exit from the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and her family was subjected to abuse for months.
Though there were many who stood by Keller, others fought against her and wanted people to forget she is a victim all while hailing her harasser.
Even some of Warda's teammates, including Mohamed Salah, suggested he be given a "second chance."
Though the footballer's actions prompted Egypt's national team to kick him off during the AFCON, he was allowed to return to the squad after his teammates pressured officials.