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Lebanese TV Host Cuts Short Interview After Islamist Scholar Tells Her to Shut Up

Ellen Zacarias

Rima Karaki

“Just one second. Either there is mutual respect, or the conversation is over.”

A video of an interview between Lebanese television show host Rima Karaki and London-based Islamist scholar Sheikh Hani Al-Siba’i has gone viral. In the video, Rima Karaki cuts the interview short after a tense exchange in which she attempted to bring the conversation back on topic from the Sheikh’s long historical tangent.

Sheikh Hani Al-Siba’i’s statements include, “Are you done? Shut up so I can talk” and “It is beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a woman who…”

Rima Karaki and Sheikh Hani Al-Siba’i were discussing reports of Christians joining ISIS when the Sheikh said the phenomenon was nothing new, and then went on a historical tangent comparing the Christians joining ISIS to “the leftist revolutionary movements” in Europe during 1970s.

Rima Karaki tried to bring the focus back to the topic of Christians joining ISIS by interrupting and asking Sheikh Hani Al-Siba’i to focus on the present. “At present,” Karaki asked, “what slogans are used to attract [Christians] to these groups?”

Siba’i responded, “Listen, don’t cut me off. I will answer as I please. I will not answer the way you like, because I’m here to to serve the idea in which I believe.” He added, “What is this behavior?”

Rima Karaki assured him, “Please don’t get worked up. We respect you and know you want to give a complete answer. Unfortunately, we have limited time–”

Hani Al-Siba’i cut her off, saying, “I agreed with Mr. Ibrahim Harbi…They’ve given us more time.”

Rima Karaki put up a hand. “Fine, go on,” she said.

However, Hani Al-Siba’i continued angrily and asked, “You think you are so high and mighty?”

“In this studio, I run the show,” Rima Karaki stated, and reminded him that they were running out of time. She said that if he elaborated so much then they would not have enough time for the other questions, and that she would be the one to decide.

“You can decide as much as you like,” Siba’i responded, “but I will do whatever I want.”

She said, “Let’s get back to the topic rather than waste time arguing.”

“Are you done? Shut up so I can talk,” said Siba’i.

“How can a respected sheikh like yourself tell a TV host to shut up?” Karaki asked.

As Rima Karaki wrapped up the interview, Siba’i continued, “It is beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a woman who–”

At that point, his microphone was cut off, although he continued talking and motioning with his hands.

“Just one second,” Rima Karaki said, holding up a hand. “Either there is mutual respect, or the conversation is over.”

Rima Karaki’s Twitter feed flowed with responses praising her for maintaining her “composure in the midst of utmost disrespect” and taking “full control of the interview after she was insulted”:

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