In the latest problematic incident on Egyptian media, a female television presenter has gone under fire for comments attacking overweight and obese individuals, particularly female ones.
In a recent episode of her program Sabaya Al-Kheir, which is broadcast on privately-owned Egyptian channel Al-Nahar, 44-year-old Reham Said harshly fat-shamed overweight individuals and accused them of being a "burden on their families and the state."
Said's words caused a public outcry in the Egyptian community, prompting the National Council for Women to file a complaint against her and the Supreme Media Council to suspend her.
"This woman's words exude racism, ignorance, and untreatable diseases. This model represents a grave danger on the media. #Reham_Said #Abhorrent_Racism."
Said's statements mainly targeted overweight women. She described them as an "eyesore," shamed them for not being "feminine enough," and asked them to lose weight.
"Fat people are like the dead. They are a burden on their families and on the state," the host-cum-actress said. Addressing overweight women in particular, she added:
"You don't look good when you wear the abaya or galabeya (flowing garments) and can barely walk due to the pain in your knees, and of course you're all sweaty because of the unnatural amount of poisonous substances in your body. You've lost your femininity. You've lost your smile. You've lost everything."
Said's comments came in response to a campaign tackling obesity in the country, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. She made reference to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who has previously expressed concerns overweight issues among the Egyptian youth.
State-appointed National Council for Women thus lodged a complaint alongside the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, a governmental media regulator, stating that Said has humiliated Egyptian women and has used inappropriate language. In response, the watchdog announced it would investigate the matter and take the necessary measures.
Meanwhile, the Media Syndicate has reported the incident to the public prosecution and suspended Said from partaking in any media activity for the time being.
Said is now scheduled to stand trial before a local court on October 14.
Responding to the backlash, Said posted a video in which she accused critics of taking her words out of context with the aim of sabotaging her career.
"I was clearly talking about people who are heavier than 200-250 kilograms," she said, emphasizing that her purpose was to raise awareness on the topic and encourage individuals struggling with eating disorders to seek help.
She then claimed the comments did not portray her own opinions, as she was simply quoting people who had spoken about their experiences with obesity in a report that appeared on her show. She also noted that she has personally struggled with an eating disorder, which she discussed at the beginning of the episode in question.
Said went on to announce her retirement from the media, saying the stress she has faced in the industry is "more dangerous than cancer and obesity."
"I will never work in the media again [...] I have been humiliated and oppressed enough," she said, adding that she plans on focusing on herself and her family.
Not her first time at the center of controversy
Back in 2015, Said accused a sexual harassment victim of dressing "indecently" and shared photos of the latter in a bathing suit without her consent, according to Egyptian Streets.
In 2017, Egypt's Media Syndicate suspended her for three months over an alleged breach of professional and ethical rules after she hosted a married woman and her boyfriend.
Additionally, last year, she was arrested on charges of inciting the abduction and trafficking of children in an episode, which reportedly documented a transaction between her show's crew and a professional gang. She denied any involvement and was later acquitted by the Giza Criminal Court.