The Lebanese Minister of Interior, General (Ret.) Mohammed Fahmi, said in a December 28, 2020 interview on Al-Hurra TV (U.S.) that women have not been fully successful in roles in Lebanon's Ministry of Interior. He gave the example of former Interior Minister Raya El Hassan, explaining that while she was successful in certain aspects, women lack the ability that men have to rub elbows with low levels in society such as drug users, drug dealers, and others. He said that Lebanon is very far behind Europe when it comes to gender equality, and that the reality in Lebanon is not always suitable for women. He also gave the example of violent clashes between protestors and security forces, saying that a woman would not be able to go out "in the field" like he did.
Interviewer: "Have women been successful in the Ministry of Interior? Be honest, yes or no?"
Mohammed Fahmi: "No."
Interviewer: "Did Raya El Hassan fail as Interior Minister?"
Fahmi: "She did not fail. In our situation in Lebanon... We live in a jungle, not in a country..."
Interviewer: "Is a man more capable of handling security matters?"
Fahmi: "A man deals with... Why did you ask me this question?"
Interviewer: "A man deals with what? A man deals with things more roughly?"
Fahmi: "No, no, no. I can bring myself down to a very low level if needed, whereas a woman cannot."
Interviewer: "What low level? Of politicians?"
Fahmi: "Of society. There are different classes in Lebanese society. There are classes. Can a woman go down to the level of drug users, drug dealers, and so on? There is a certain reality in Lebanon... We do not live in Britain, Sweden, or London. In our culture, a woman cannot go down to the level of..."
Interviewer: "You are talking about Eastern culture."
Fahmi: "It is not an issue of Eastern culture versus Western culture. But here, in Lebanon, there is a certain reality that is inappropriate for a woman.
"Minister El Hassan succeeded in certain aspects even more than I have."
Interviewer: "But you would have preferred she had stayed in the area of economics?"
Fahmi: "Of course. Economics is her area of expertise. She cannot go out in the field... When there were, for example, clashes between non-peaceful demonstrators and the security forces – she could not have gone out to the field."
Interviewer: "Did you go out in the field?"
Fahmi: "Of course I did. It is my job. But a woman cannot do it."
Interviewer: "We are living in an era of equality between men and women. Why can't she do it?"
Fahmi: "In Sweden there is equality between men and women, but in Lebanon?"
Interviewer: "Are we still so far behind?"
Fahmi: "Yes, we are. Very much so."