Egyptian ultra-conservative preacher Ahmed Mahmoud Abdullah, also known as Abu Islam, stirred another controversy in a TV interview when he started making paper boats and taking off his shoe on air.
The interview, aired in the Ten O’clock show on the Egyptian private satellite channel Dream TV, featured a debate between Abu Islam and a political activist, Ahmed Douma, over the former’s derogatory statements about women protesters. The controversial preacher made headlines when he said harassing or raping women protesters was not a red line.
After being criticized by Doma for his statements, Abu Islam started making paper boats, an action Doma described as indication that the preacher was not taking the debate seriously, and how certain factions take advantage of religion to achieve political gains.
To this Abu Islam replied: “Please get us a pot of water so those boats can sail. This is what democracy is about.”
In the midst of the heated debate, Doma said that “the shoe of any Egyptian woman is much cleaner than hundreds of preachers of that type” and that “real men would never talk about Egyptian women in that manner.”
Abu Islam responded by taking off his shoe and placing it on the table on which Doma and the other guest, Azhar professor Abdullah al-Nagar, sat.
The host of the show Wael al-Ibrashi had to request that they go off air. Later, the show was resumed without Abu Islam.
“I will never accept that a shoe be placed on the discussion table,” said Ibrashi after resuming transmission.
When asked for the reason for his actions, Abu Islam said that this was the least he could do in response to Doma’s statements, which he described as “worthless.”
“He spoke inappropriately about Islam and Islamic scholars and kept talking for 15 minutes,” he told Al Arabiya. “That was the best way to respond to him.”
Regarding his statements about female protesters, Abu Islam said that his words were taken out of context.
“I didn’t say women should not protest. Protesting is a right that I cannot deprive them from. All what I said was that they shouldn’t go to protests if they know beforehand they might be harassed or even raped.”
Abu Islam added that women who insist on going despite knowing that they will be sexually assaulted give the impression that they are not objecting to such actions.
Abu Islam called for a separation between men and women in protests.
“Certain places should be allocated for women to express their views.”