BEIRUT: Akkar MP Walid Baarini said Monday that he had not meant to hint at sexual intercourse when he invited a senior female employee at Al Jadeed news channel to “try my manhood.”
In a clip of a news conference he held Sunday that was widely circulated online, Baarini said, “Unfortunately, there is a media personality talking about manhood. I hope that you try my manhood, in a certain way. I am ready,” addressing Mariam al-Bassam, Al-Jadeed’s director of news and programs, who was not present at the conference. “If you would like, test my manhood, according to what God would allow. I am ready to show you the meaning of manhood,” Baarani continued.
While the remarks were widely denounced on social media as sexist, Baarini told The Daily Star that they had been misinterpreted.
“I meant I want us to talk, to sit down, for things to be discussed. I finished my statement with the phrase, ‘according to what God allows.’ How could I finish what I said with that expression and suggest doing something sinful with a person? I don’t go into sexual things, this is shameful talk. It is not manly to say these hurtful words,” he said.
Asked if he should apologize for the remarks, Baarini said, “When I do something wrong, I will apologize, that is the manly thing to do. I would give 600 apologies if I did something wrong.”
The Future Movement MP had spoken about Bassam at the news conference in response to her criticism of his party’s handling of the controversy precipitated by pro-Syrian politician Wiam Wahhab’s verbal attacks on Future leader Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.
In a tweet last month, Bassam criticized a Future Movement statement read out by Baarani at a news conference that blasted Wahhab.
A number of TV presenters rallied around Bassam on social media, lambasting Baarini’s comments.
LBCI host Dima Sadek tweeted, “To this creature who is speaking: Excuse me, what masculinity are you talking about? Manhood is manners. Manhood is values ... we, as media professionals, will no longer remain silent about a single word that infringes upon our dignity.”
Sky News Arabia reporter Larissa Aoun tweeted that “Baarini’s words are a shame to the Future Movement and Parliament.”
Mayssaloun Nassar, a reporter for France 24, went a step further, tweeting, “God have mercy on the person who invented Viagra for you so you could speak about manhood! ... All solidarity with Mariam Al-Bassam in front of this mentally castrated male monster.”
Bassam declined to comment.