Amr al-Leithy, the television host of “Wahid min al-Nas” (One of the People), has temporarily suspended broadcast of his show for an annual vacation, according to a statement released on Saturday by the privately owned Al-Hayat TV network.
The network’s brief statement follows speculation that the show would be suspended for airing an interview on Wednesday in which a tuk tuk driver criticized the Egyptian government. Following its broadcast, Leithy’s interview with the driver went viral on social media, garnering millions of views in a few hours.
A source from One of the People’s production team confirmed that the show would be on a two-week hiatus for its annual vacation, impugning reports that it had been indefinitely suspended. When asked whether this is the usual time for the show to go on break, the source told Mada Masr that the production team has not received any further information.
The show’s administration removed the video of the interview from the One of the People Facebook page, after it generated contentious debate.
In comments made to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, Leithy claimed he has been on vacation for three weeks and denied that the show has been indefinitely pulled from the air.
“The show aims to be developmental not political, and the tuk tuk driver’s interview was a normal complaint, like that of any other citizen we meet on Egypt’s streets and who suffers from many problems, but social media exaggerated the issue. The man works in the 6th of October City local market, and I had never met him before. I interviewed him just like the rest of the people we interviewed in the same episode,” Leithy said.
During the interview, the driver criticizes the government for allowing the degradation of Egypt’s infrastructure, economy, and food security, despite depictions on television that everything is fine. He questions what the government has done with the money it has received from Saudi Arabia, as it has not manifested in any tangible improvement for the majority of Egyptians.
“The people are not educated. The people are tired. The people are hungry,” the driver says.
Since the interview aired, media figures and writers who support the government have accused Leithy of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, due to his previous post as a media consultant for former President Mohamed Morsi.
Columnist Mohamed al-Kourdosy, a staunch supporter of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, described Leithy as “more dangerous than Khirat al-Shater,” a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure. “He goes to the slums and picks out an angry person to curse the country and the president. This is flagrant incitement that a country drowning in a crisis cannot stand.”
Managing Editor of the privately owned Youm7 newspaper Dandrawy al-Hawary, who is also a noted supported of Sisi, leveled similar accusations against the show’s host, accusing Leithy of having fabricated the interview with the driver.
“We are facing catastrophic media fabrication politically deployed to incite the public and to stop Egypt’s developmental project,” Hawary wrote.