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Talk show host interrogated for insulting police released on bail

A North Cairo court released talk show host Khairy Ramadan on LE10,000 bail on Monday, pending further investigations into charges of defaming the police.

The co-host of “Masr al-Naharda” (Egypt Today), a new evening talk show which airs on Egypt’s official state television channel and is co-hosted by Rasha Nabil, was summoned for interrogation by the central Cairo prosecution on March 3, after discussing low wages in the Egyptian police force on his show. The prosecution issued Ramadan a four-day detention order on Sunday, pending investigations into charges of defaming the police.

On February 18, Ramadan interviewed a woman married to a police colonel who stated that her husband’s salary, just under LE5,000, did not cover the family’s expenses. The woman added that she considered seeking employment as a domestic worker in order to provide for her children.

During the interview, which took place during the first episode of Masr al-Naharda, Ramadan appealed to state authorities to provide members of Egypt’s police force with a living wage, and for private schools and universities to offer reduced rates to children of police personnel.  

In a report submitted to the prosecution following the show’s broadcast, the Interior Ministry accused Ramadan of defaming the police, according to the privately owned Al-Bawaba newspaper.

Ramadan responded to viewers’ angry reactions to the interview on the show’s next episode, which aired the following day. The host asserted that he was “completely and publicly on the side of the heroes of the police and the Armed Forces.”

Makram Mohamed Ahmed, the head of the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, the authority responsible for regulating Egyptian media outlets, criticized Ramadan’s detention in a Sunday phone interview with Lamis al-Hadidy on “Hona al-Asema” (Here’s the Capital). Ahmed noted that the talk show host had made a mistake, but that his apology was sufficient, adding that Ramadan’s subsequent detention signaled to media practitioners that thinking outside of the box could lead to their prosecution.

“Is this what anyone who thinks gets in return these days?” asked Ahmed, in reference to Ramadan’s detention.

Head of the Journalists Syndicate, Abdel Mohsen Salama, called Ramadan’s detention “shocking and bewildering” in comments published in the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper on Monday. Salama noted that Ramadan “didn’t mean to defame the police and didn’t commit any crime that would justify the detention of a high-profile media personality doing his job on Egypt’s official state television channel.”

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