For around two years now, and since the MeToo movement around the world, it has been hard for the world to overlook the stories of sexual harassment.
Yet, the case was not the same for many in the Arab world. Many are still finding it hard to define sexual harassment let alone the difficulty in facing it, in a place where sexual harassment is often not rebuked socially.
The controversy surrounding sexual harassment stories has been ongoing lately as Egypt’s National Team was rocked with a harassment scandal of one of the players.
Amr Warda, who was accused by an Egyptian-British model along with many other women of sexual harassment, was suspended by the Egyptian Football Association. A few days later, he went to Facebook and posted an apology video in which he apologized to his family, his teammates, to the Football Association and to “anyone who is upset at me or anyone I have upset”, yet, he did not apologize for the victims or even cared to mention them.
Hours later, Mo Salah, Egypt’s most prominent football player who has been gaining wide popularity worldwide, went to social media and expressed solidarity with Warda.
Mo Salah’s tweet that called to “give a second chance” to harassers while he has been talking about respecting women in his interviews to the media has in fact angered most of his fan-base in the Middle East and worldwide as well.
We need to believe in second chances... we need to guide and educate. Shunning is not the answer.— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) June 26, 2019
Moreover, Warda’s suspension was overturned in a few days following Salah and the team captain, Ahmed Elmohamady's, interventions.
Many accused Mo Salah of hypocrisy as he calls for actually forgiving harassers rather than punishing them.
Mo Salah lost my respect after he defended and brought back Amer Warda to the national team after he was kicked out for harrasing and send videos doing sexual acts to different women online, what a shame, here are an example of that garbage behavior pic.twitter.com/LdEIi6JQ1E— Loneley Mesopotamian (@mesopotamian55) July 7, 2019
Arabs in Egypt and other countries criticized Salah, his remarks in defense of his colleague have in fact boosted the Egyptian and Arab culture of forgiving male harassers while blaming the victims.
We give second chances when those who committed a mistake are punished for their action, then comes the inclusion. But protecting misogynists from the consequences of their actions is not inclusion, it means that YOU are complicit.— Mai Shams El-Din (@maishams) June 27, 2019
On hashtags like #SalahSupportsSexualHarassment and #منتخب_المتحرشين [Harassers’ Team], people roasted Salah and his team and called to boycott the team while Egypt is hosting the Africa Cup of Nations.
Social media users have also circulated a photo of an Egyptian fan holding a poster of Amr Warda and Mo Salah at Cairo International Stadium ahead of one of their games.
Later on last Saturday, Egypt’s national football team has lost a game for South Africa and left the championship, leading several Egyptians and Arabs to go to gloat and attribute the team’s failure to the corruption of the whole association.
You failed technically in the matches and ethically by supporting Warda.— Eman Mostafa (@Eman_MD) July 7, 2019
You failed to support a critical cause in you country because you had no vision. And failed to as a leader of this team. You chose to act as (another player) in field although you asked for more out of field
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