MBC network will not be suspending a controversial prank show hosted by Egyptian actor Ramez Galal, according to a network spokesman, despite criticism it has drawn in recent days for what some have described as “normalising torture.”
“[We] are not considering suspending the show. We have dismissed such reports,” MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said late on Tuesday.
Only days after it started broadcast with the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, the prank show ‘Ramez Is Officially Crazy’ has triggered widespread criticism, with legal complaints calling for its suspension due to its "sadistic" and "inappropriate" content.
“The TV show has drawn the highest TV viewership and the highest engagement [on the network] with more than 50 million views on YouTube in two days,” Hayek told MBC Trending TV show.
“If you don’t like it, we respect your opinion; don’t watch, but you can’t deprive millions of people from watching it… because others like it.”
Hayek said the show has garnered 120 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat in the first two days of Ramadan, in addition to its high TV viewership.
‘Ramez Is Officially Crazy’ tricks Egyptian and Arab celebrities into attending what they think will be a talk show in Dubai, only to find themselves strapped into a moving chair and ordered by Galal to repeat phrases glorifying him or demeaning themselves. If they refuse, they are threatened with electric shocks or a live snake.
According to Hayek, the prank show has been aired on 5 MBC network channels in addition to its online platform Shahid.
“As long as the victim gives their approval after the prank, it’s okay. You can’t stop others who like it from watching… we respect your view and listen to people’s opinion,” Hayek said, describing the show as a “guilty pleasure.”
Egypt’s top mental health hospital, Al-Abbassiya, has issued a statement condemning the show and calling for its suspension due to what it described as the negative impact it could have on people’s mental health.