The Egyptian media regulator suspended on Friday the popular Akher Al-Nahar (End of the Day) TV programme with Tamer Amin pending investigations into accusations of making derisive comments toward parents in Upper Egypt while weighing in on debates over overpopulation.
During an episode of his programme, which airs on the privately-owned Al-Nahar TV channel, Amin, a veteran TV presenter, accused families in Upper Egypt of "purposefully" giving birth to "a slew of children" in order to later use them as labourers who supplement the parents' incomes.
In an official statement, the Egyptian Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) announced the suspension of the show and called for adherence to the media's code of ethics.
"The council expresses full respect to upper Egypt citizens who represent generosity, benevolence and manhood," the SCMR's statement stressed.
Weighing in on an ongoing discussion on ithe impacts of "overpopulation" on Egyptian society, Amin said during Thursday's episode of his programme that there are many families in rural areas and Upper Egypt who conceive children to push boys and girls into labour in order to supprt the parents.
"Unfortunately, I hope my words do not bother you ... in rural areas and Upper Egypt, there is a high percentage [of families] who conceive boys and girls not to [raise them and teach them to build a career for themselves], but rather [for the kids] to spend money on the father and mother," he said.
"There are too many families [that hope] for a baby boy who they can force, once becomes five or six or at most seven years old, to find a job in a workshop, a garage, or a carpentry workshop … [or work as a day labourer at construction sites]," he added.
"The guild master [at these workshops] pays the child a wage of EGP 1000 or 500 per month since the worker is a young boy. So, what does the boy do with the wage? He throws it right into his father's lap," the presenter continued.
Amin called for preventing families from turning their offsprings into labourers via imposing penalties on parents who force children to drop out of school.
Amin's comment immediately triggered an uproar on social media, with many vexed Upper Egyptians launching a hashtag to hold the presenter accountable.
Hours later, Al-Nahar Network announced in an official statement it will start an urgent probe into the incident. The network said it pulled clips of Amin's comment from all of its streaming outlets and social media platforms, describing them as an "offensive."
Al-Nahar also voiced out its appreciation of the people of Upper Egypt and rural areas in Lower Egypt, saying "Many symbols throughout history have hailed from this good land ... and have left unmistakable prints in all fields." The network also apologized to women in Upper Egypt, saying it would not allow any insults or transgressions against them.
Upper Egyptians have in the past suffered from high levels of poverty due to neglect by previous governments, and are often subjected to derision in public discourse.
However, the state started in recent years ambitious national projects to develop the region economically and socially, with the aim of eliminatiing noticeable differences between the north and the south of the country.
Upper Egypt accounts for less than one fourth of the country's 101 million population.
Last year, Egypt launched a nationwide two-year initiative called "Two Is Enough," to encourage people to have fewer children.
In October, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly urged the county’s health ministry to provide all forms of contraception to women free of charge.
Amin issued a public apology in a video message on Friday.