‘Get AIDS, win an iPad:’ Prominent Saudi TV host slams health minister

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The story of Reham Hakami, the 12-year-old Saudi girl who was infected with HIV during a blood transfusion, continues to stir controversy across the kingdom amid calls for Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeah to resign.

During his popular “Thamena” talk show on the MBC TV channel, Dawood al-Shirian criticized Rabeah’s handling of the incident, after the minister visited Hakami in a Riyadh hospital and gave her an iPad.

During the show, Health Ministry spokesman Khalid Marghalni said Rabeah was acting like “a father” in seeking to cheer up the girl.

“The best gift would be for the minister to resign tonight,” Shirian replied.

In Saudi Arabia, calls for the resignation of senior government officials are uncommon in the media.

Hakami’s story has garnered intense media attention across the kingdom, with calls for those responsible to be held accountable.

Well-known Saudi poet Talal Hamza mocked the minister’s gift by tweeting: “A smart phone for every stupid behavior.”

Popular preacher Adel al-Kalabani described the gift as “the cheapest compensation for AIDS” which “should be included in the Guinness World Records.”

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