A Kuwaiti woman television news anchor is paying the price for complimenting a male colleague on air. Basima Al-Shammar called her male colleague "handsome", after which she was suspended for being "flirtatious".
The anchor’s way of chatting with a male colleague on air was not taken informally. According to media reports, her casual comment was interpreted in another sense that caught the attention of a Kuwaiti Member of Parliament. After a complaint from them on Twitter, the journalist, Basima Al-Shammar, has been suspended.
She tried defending her remark as "routine" and says the outrage is invalid and confusing
According to Al Arabiya English, the newscaster was reading a news segment about municipal elections when she turned to a reporter to get the latest update. Nawaf Al-Shiraki, the male co-anchor, wasn’t ready and started adjusting his gutra or traditional headgear as he appears on air. A video gone viral shows Al-Shammar saying in Arabic, "No need to fix your gutra, Nawaf, you look handsome!"
فيديو / وزارة الاعلام : إيقاف مذيعة «أنت مزيون» pic.twitter.com/i9oy8qQVdN— خبر عاجل (@Breakingkw) May 13, 2018
The word she uses is "maizyoon," which translates into "cute" or "handsome" in the Kuwaiti dialect. Saudi Arabia's Arab News reports this unprofessional comment as "flirtatious".
According to Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper, MP Mohammad Al-Hayef, the Gulf country's Ministry of Information, tweeted referring it a "slip of tongue". He said such comments should not be tolerated on state television. The charges follow a flood of accusations which led the ministry to ensure a temporary suspension of the journalist.
Anchor justifies comment
"What happened is not a joke or something else. It is well known that the customs of communications in the Gulf is that when you see someone adjusting his attire, you tell him: you look good or handsome," Al-Shammar told Al Arabiya.net. "That is what I told him... you don't need to adjust your head garment you look handsome, meaning your attire looks good, and you are in good shape, and we're waiting for you to report the news."
Although, Al-Shiraki defended his colleague's professionalism, calling her "modest and kind and one of the best media personalities", an investigation is still pending.
Feature Image Credit: NDTV