Host stops appearing on TV following Morocco comments

Last week’s statements by TV host Amany al-Khayat against Morocco continue to stir controversy as her daily appearance on the show has now stopped. 

Khayat, who presents the daily morning show on the privately-owned channel ONtv, criticized Morocco last week for its support of Islamist movements in the region and for Hamas’ call for its support in the wake of the Israeli attacks in Gaza. Khayat said Morocco played a “questionable” role in the Arab Spring revolutions and slammed the King of Morocco, Mohamed the Sixth, for collaborating with Islamists around the region and in his own country.

She also said the Moroccan economy is built on prostitution and that this is why the country ranks so highly for HIV/AIDS infections in the world.

Khayat said on her Twitter account on Sunday that she would not present the show anymore but didn’t clarify whether she was prompted by the channel to stop or whether this was by her own accord. However, she did say that she wasn’t fired by ONtv. “I am still working for the channel and there is no disagreement with the channel’s management,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, the channel issued an apology for Khayat’s statement on Saturday and said that it does not support any form of disrespect or harm to the Arab people.  

Also, a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday dismissed Khayat’s comments as not representative of Egyptian-Moroccan ties.

The Ministry said that the comments reflect the opinions of the host alone and do not represent the position and policies of Egypt, which holds respect and appreciation for Morocco. It added that it refuses any moves that would cause harm to brothers of the Egyptian nation or that would disturb the deep human ties that link the Moroccan and the Egyptian people.

The presenter’s statements have caused popular anger in Morocco, where many have called for a formal apology by Egypt.

Khayat apologized late last week for her comments, saying that any misunderstandings were unintended and that she holds respect for the Moroccan people and only criticizes governments that trade with religion. Meanwhile, she also apologized to the king and the Moroccan government.

Khayat, who has adopted a firm pro-military position in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood group, has waged a fierce campaign against Hamas, criticizing it for rejecting Egypt’s cease-fire initiative as the war on Gaza by Israel has heightened.

She said Hamas needs to understand that it should not expect a more intimate form of mediation by Egypt’s new leadership, unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, which brokered a truce in 2012 that was more positively welcomed by Hamas. Conversely, Hamas said Egypt has not addressed them formally and criticized the proposal for being too submissive.