I met him for the very first time when I was shooting E7na show and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw; Moez Masoud is a young handsome charismatic man who is blessed by sound logic and common sense. He is nonetheless knowledgeable and passionate about his message. Unlike many other religious figures, Moez is witty, funny, and speaks perfect English. Whether I agreed or disagreed with him, this brilliant role model is definitely worth admiration and respect. As a trainer from the corporate world, I would give him a ten out of ten in presentation skills, attitude, and talent. As a woman who was insulted and humiliated in front of the whole crew, I would take it all back!
Let me start from the start! Moez was our guest on a few episodes and we had strict instructions from the editorial team not to bring up topics related to sex, homosexuality, virginity, dating, or Islamic legislation - “fatwa”. That day Moez came with his friend and avid follower Mohamed Diab – the dude who wrote El Gezira. For an unknown reason Mohamed shouldered the responsibility of looking after the interests and image of Moez. The first episode went well and although Moez relied on his personal charm than on his knowledge to get his message across, I still admired the guy and listened to his arguments with nothing but respect. Then the whole team had to change for the second episode and that was the beginning of the end.
Wardrobe is the responsibility of the stylist and that is directly coordinated with the editorial team and the director. Like everyone else, I went to change and I was handed my outfit - the outfit that put me to shame and disgrace! A pair of beige crop pants and a colorful crochet top underneath a long sleeve crochet black top. Mind you that I am far from busty, sort of skinny, and kind of demure and frail looking. I put on the cursed outfit and walked back to the set where Moez and Mohamed were sitting outside with some members of E7na team. Like a normal girl who has neither inhibitions nor passive aggression, I pulled a chair and joined them. Silence filed the air. Mohamed Diab gave me the “how dare you?” look and Moez offered me a sandwich.
I was still oblivious to the impact of my outfit when I walked back to the room where we were actually shooting. I sat in my place next to everyone else and waited for Moez to come in and start his episode. When that did not happen, I raised my head, looked outside, and saw what seemed like Moez refusing to come in and Diab speaking to one of the big guys. The team was getting restless and one of the editorial guys walked up to me and whispered in my ears “Marwa, can you change?” I said that I could not as my stubborn streak took over and suddenly everyone was looking for a scarf to hide my shoulders and whatever skin that upset Diab/Moez/God!!
A wave of numbness took over followed by a heat flush and an urge to cry. I left the room and ran to the next empty room. I hid my flushed face as I tried to work on my breathing. The editors followed asking me what went wrong and amidst my anger and indignation I howled something along the lines of “I am not coming out ... go ahead and shoot without me!” I was serious! Next thing I knew was Moez himself walking into the room, asking everyone to leave us together (alone), and asking me what was wrong. I asked the pious man sitting in front of me if he were not of afraid of me - the indecent unrespectable me. He kept his cool as he told me that it was not his fault and that being a public figure comes with certain pressures. He said a few things about his image and the problems he could get into because of my outfit. He talked about people and how he could be judged for accepting to shoot with me dressed like that on the same table. He told me that I did not arouse him sexually and asked if that was my skin showing through the crochet work. Moez apologized. He said he did not mean to insult me in any way right after telling me that he did not mean to make me feel like garbage; it was just job casualties so to speak. I am the master of this game; I know how to aim an apology that would sound like a second insult!
For the benefit of the team, I changed my top and went back to that table. I sat across Moez and looked him in the eye as he spoke of how women were sacred and how men forgot that women were more evolved creatures. He went on and on about respecting women, cherishing women, loving women, and remembering how Islam put women on a high pedestal. That was the moment when my receivers shut down one after the other; when I realized that he was just another one of “them”. In marketing terms, women were the segment he chose to target with his product; because of their emotional nature, they would be more receptive to his messages. He would certainly score more points with his soothing words; at a time when his patriarchal counterparts ignored females, here came the man who finally spoke some sense!
I have to admit that he is smart; if the women bought in, the kids would follow, and before you knew it, the men would follow too. Moez even tried to score points with a Christian colleague on the show by always addressing her as the representative of the church in the room and by repeating over and over that all religions are the same – was he thinking of converting her the same way he “cured” the homosexual guy? He was as fake, as pretentious, as superficial, and as gutless as the rest of them – the rest of those who gave in to the pressures of meeting peoples’ expectations and lost their true selves in the process. Moez Masoud allowed Diab to speak on his behalf, allowed the media to dictate his public image, allowed his personal relationships with other religious figures to decide which topics he was willing to address, allowed the gap between who he is and who he should be to grow wider, and allowed himself to judge me based on an outfit! In the middle of the shoot and with his usual smile and wit, Moaz Masoud said “God spare me Marwa Rakha’s evils!” – did he foresee this article coming?!
Campus - April 2008
Campus - April 2008