Egypt MP Okasha faces 'shoe assault' in parliament over hosting Israel ambassador

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Feb 2016

MP Okasha, referred to parliamentary investigation for hosting the Israeli ambassador at his home, was attacked on Sunday by the oldest member of the house with a shoe

Parliament Floor
Mayhem on parliament floor as MPs attempt to break up a fight between Kamal Ahmed and Tawfik Okasha (Photo: Screencap from Al-Watan TV Youtube Channel)

Upon entering the plenary chamber of Egypt's parliament on Sunday morning, controversial MP and TV host Tawfik Okasha was struck with a shoe wielded by MP Kamal Ahmed, the oldest member of parliament.

The assault on Okasha comes after days of condemnation by some MPs and critics of Okasha over a dinner and a political discussion he had with Israel's ambassador to Egypt last week.

Chaos and noise erupted in the parliamentary debating chamber as MPs demanded that Okasha leave.

Both Okasha and Ahmed were ordered to leave the session by Speaker of the House Ali Abdel-Al, who referred them both to investigation.

Abdel-Al had earlier referred Okasha to a special investigative committee following his controversial hosting of the Israeli ambassador.

In statements to journalists outside the parliament debate chamber, Kamal Ahmed said that he wanted to send a message to the Israeli government on behalf of the Egyptian people that "normalising relations between Egypt and Israel is completely unacceptable."

He also added he would repeat what he had done in hitting Okasha with his shoe “because people like Okasha deserved it.”

Photos emerged online in the past few days apparently showing Okasha in a visit to Israel before 2011.  

On Saturday, a group of MPs, both independent and party members, submitted requests to speaker Abdel-Al asking that Okasha be punished for "committing the unprecedented crime of meeting with Israel's ambassador in Egypt" at his home in Daqahliya governorate.

Mostafa Bakry, the independent MP known for his anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric, went even further by asking Abdel-Al to strip Okasha of his parliamentary membership, claiming that he lied about his credentials.

Bakry claimed that Okasha bought his PhD from a fake university in the United States.

Okasha slammed his critics on his TV channel and defended himself for hosting the Israeli ambassador at his home.

Okasha claimed that Bakry, a prominent Nasserite journalist, received money from late presidents Hafez Al-Assad of Syria and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya to spread their views in the Egyptian media.  

'Israel key to solving issues' 

In an over one-hour interview on his channel, Okasha spoke about his controversial meeting with the Israeli ambassador, claiming that Israel was the key to solving issues regarding Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, which Egypt is concerned could reduce its share of Nile water.

Okasha, a self-described expert on "freemasonry and American-Zionist conspiracies in Egypt", said that the Israeli ambassador asked him to help Israel in finding the biblical Solomon's Temple.

Okasha said that he agreed to help the Israeli government in finding the holy Jewish temple on four conditions; ending the Ethiopian dam issue, dropping a $1.8 billon claim in a gas dispute with Egypt, building 10 schools in Egypt as compensation for the Bahr Al-Baqr primary school that Israel bombed in 1970, and reaching a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

He also repeated his assertion that he informed the Egyptian security apparatus of the meeting four days prior to its taking place.   

In February, Okasha publicly invited Israeli ambassador in Cairo Haim Koren to his home in Daqahliya to discuss several political matters, at the top of which was the Ethiopian dam controversy.

Koren accepted the invitation and had a three-hour dinner with Okasha, with photos of the meeting published by the Israeli embassy in Egypt's Facebook page.

Being no stranger to controversy, Okasha often makes news with his behaviour and statements, often leading to him being kicked out of parliament's plenary chamber.

Last week, speaker Abdel-Al ordered that Okasha to be referred to a special investigative committee over the latter's comments that Abdel-Al came to parliament "by mistake" after he would not let Okasha address the chamber.

Okasha later apologised to Abdel-Al.

In late December, Egypt's Media Free Zone's administration suspended Okasha's show on his channel Al-Faraeen for six months as well as barring him from appearing on any other TV channel.

The decision was taken after he made statements during a TV interview on the privately owned ONTV channel where he accused all the Egyptian security apparatuses of "working against the country's interests and working for their own narrow ideas."

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