Anti-Morocco tirade by Egypt TV host sparks outcry

‘Morocco ranks among the highest countries in HIV prevalence rate,’ ONTV presenter Amany al-Khayat claimed

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An on-air tirade against the kingdom of Morocco by a female Egyptian presenter this week almost plunged the two North African countries into a diplomatic crisis.

Earlier this week, Amany al-Khayat, a presenter with private television channel ONTV, aired a video of Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Gaza-based Islamist movement Hamas, asking for Moroccan help to liberate Palestine.

But Meshal’s appeal to distant Morocco - instead of Egypt next door - appeared to have angered the presenter, who then began a lengthy tirade against the North African kingdom live on television.

“During Arab revolutions the Moroccan king quickly signed a deal with Islamists and told them: come on and take the government because the young king there does not have time,” she said.

“And by the way, who pays the price in Morocco, the people. Morocco ranks among the highest countries in HIV prevalence rate,” she claimed, adding that “Morocco’s economy is an economy of prostitution.”

Contrary to her claim, the CIA’s World Factbook lists Morocco 162 in HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate – out of 170 countries listed, while Egypt ranks at 136.

Khayat’s remarks were picked up by several Moroccan media outlets, prompting widespread anger in the North African kingdom.

The presenter subsequently apologized in her subsequent show on Wednesday, praising Morocco and describing it as the land of “intellectuals” and telling viewers about how “deeply” she was influenced by Moroccan critic and philosopher Mohammed Abed al-Jaberi.

“I apologize to every Moroccan or Arab person who felt insulted by my remarks. I only meant to criticize all those who have abused the Islamic religion, whether governments or individuals,” she said.

On Thursday, Egypt’s ambassador to Morocco, Ahmed Ehab Gamal el-Din, stepped in to further calm the situation, denouncing Khayat’s statements as “reprehensible and unacceptable by Egyptian people,” and pledging to take “all necessary measures to ensure that such incident would not be happen again.

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