A well-known Egyptian movie director has drawn the ire of Egypt’s Muslim scholars by appearing on an Arab satellite TV channel and calling for prostitution to be legalized.
Inas El-Degheidy made the remarks in a show about social issues relating to women and sex, drawing sharp rebuke from religious authorities at Al-Azhar.
But Degheidy told AlArabiya.net that she won't back down from her comment, adding that her aim is to protect – not corrupt – Egyptian society, as some of her critics have charged.
"Prostitution is everywhere in the world, and it is in Egypt anyway. The problem is that it's done in secret and prostitutes might be carriers of fatal STDs," Degheidy said.
If legalized, Degheidy said each prostitute could undergo health and safety checks each year in order to have their licenses renewed.
Degheidy acknowledged that she is not a religious affairs expert, saying her opinion was inspired by logic and commonsense.
"We should face reality instead of avoiding it, and this is the first step towards protecting society whether or not it is acceptable," she added.
But Al-Azhar University professor Sheikh Mohamed Al-Moukhtar Al-Mahdy dismissed Degheidy’s demand as “a secular call that is against all religions.”
He added that Degheidy was trying to destroy Arab and Muslim society by Westernizing it and taking it back to the pre-Islamic era when people used to practice vice freely.
"She shouldn't interfere with society if her way of protecting it is by moving humans to the level of animals and by violating all social and religious principles," he said.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).