Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 17 APR 2014
07:19 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
17 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Egypt PM in hot water over 'unclean breasts' remarks
Reuters
Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Kandil talks during an interview with Reuters in Cairo September 9, 2012. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Kandil talks during an interview with Reuters in Cairo September 9, 2012. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
A+ A-

CAIRO: Egypt's prime minister faces accusations of being out of touch with the country's crisis after televised comments blaming rural infant sickness on mothers not washing their breasts.

Hisham Kandil, a former irrigation minister widely seen as a stolid technocrat, was speaking at a meeting with journalists broadcast on state television this week when he veered into a ramble on the "miseries" of life in rural Egypt.

"In my work, I've gone around the countryside," he said. "There are villages in Egypt, in the 21st century, where children get diarrhoea ... because the mothers who nurse them, out of ignorance, do not maintain personal cleanliness of their breasts."

Recalling a visit to the Beni Suef area south of Cairo in 2004, he spoke of the dire conditions of village life. "There's no water, there's no sewerage," he said. "The men go to the mosque ... the women go down to the fields and get raped."

He appeared to be responding to complaints about a series of attacks and rapes of political activists in Cairo in recent weeks, citing the case of a man who was caught on video being beaten and dragged naked by police.

"I don't know Hamada (Saber), well, I know him like you do, but I am 99 percent sure he doesn't pay his electricity bill," the prime minister said of the victim of that videoed beating.

His remarks unleashed a storm of criticism, much of it reflecting a sense of economic and political malaise that has settled over the country since an uprising two years ago that toppled veteran autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

Dina Abdel Fattah, a talk show host on the independent Tahrir channel questioned why the head of government had dwelt on the subject when Egypt was in a state of "darkness".

At least 59 people died in 10 days of protests that started late last month over what demonstrators see as Islamist President Mohamed Mursi's attempts to monopolise power as well as broader economic and political grievances.

"Imagine. Our prime minister is talking about this today, when we have martyrs in the street, we have people getting killed every day, when we have entire provinces in a state of unrest," Abdel Fattah said on her show.

Another television channel, Al Nahar, interviewed residents of Beni Suef voicing dismay at Kandil's comments.

"It's no good the prime minister talking this nonsense about women, good people, clean people, and ignoring all the other problems of the world," one man said on the programme.

Since his election in June, Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has struggled to restore security and revive the ailing economy.

Small demonstrations continued on Friday, drawing thousands of protesters in Cairo and other cities including Tanta in the Nile Delta and Port Said on the Suez Canal.

Critics questioned Mursi's appointment of Kandil in July, saying it was unclear whether he had the political or economic experience for the job.

"Instead of making offensive comments about poor village women and laying blame on them when God knows they are already suffering, he should be blaming himself for the failure of his government to find a proper solution to alleviate poverty, illiteracy and awful health schemes in villages," said Iman Mahmoud, a 61-year-old housewife in Cairo.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Egypt
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 15, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Silencing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s hate talk
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Putin will keep rolling, until Obama says no
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS