- Former NRL star and White Ribbon Ambassador Hazem El Masri charged
- He will face court on Thursday charged with domestic violence offences
- His second wife Douah El-Cherif, 25, has taken out an AVO against him
- She made a statement at Bankstown Police Station on Wednesday
- On Tuesday his ex-wife Arwa Abousamra publicly defended El Masri
The wife of former NRL star Hazem El Masri has been pictured for the first time since he was charged with domestic violence offences against her.
Douah El-Cherif, 25, has taken an AVO out against her husband, 39, who will appear in a Bankstown court on Thursday, charged with offences including assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Ms El-Cherif, 25, was escorted outside the doors of the Western Sydney police station by a female police officer and two female relatives who walked her to a nearby vehicle.
Modestly dressed in a purple hijab and long purple dress, Ms El-Cherif clung to her pink handbag and phone as she rushed to the passenger’s seat of the car, before being driven to her parents’ home in a quiet street in Sydney’s south-west.
After taking out an AVO against former Rugby League star Hazem El Masri yesterday, his second wife Douah
El-Cherif made a statement at Bankstown police station, flanked by her supporters
Ms El-Cherif’s father told Daily Mail Australia his daughter was speaking with police officers
Ms El-Cherif, 25, was escorted outside the doors of the Western Sydney police station by a female police
officer and two female relatives who walked her to a nearby vehicle
Rugby league legend Hazem El Masri has been charged with allegedly assaulting his new wife
Douah El-Cherif, 25, at the couple’s home on Monday evening
When Daily Mail Australia asked Ms El-Cherif to comment, she politely declined and an older protective female relative who stayed by her side yelled: ‘She doesn’t want to talk about it!’
Her father, Mr El-Cherif, said that his daughter was speaking to the police but also did not want to discuss the issue any further comment.
‘My daughter is at the police station, I can’t tell you anymore,’ said Mr El-Cherif.
According to a source close to the family, Ms El-Cherif has a pleasant demeanour and it was Mr El-Masri, who instigated the relationship with her after he left his first wife Arwa Abousamra in 2014.
‘Douah comes from a strict Muslim family, they are lovely people and Douah was chased by (sic) Hazem.
Modestly dressed in a purple hijab and long purple dress, Ms El-Cherif clung to her pink handbag
andphone as she rushed to the passenger’s seat of the car
‘Her father was initially against the relationship, she was so young and beautiful. But Hazem really wanted to marry her,’ the source, who did not want to be named, told Daily Mail Australia.
Meanwhile, respected Muslim community leader Jamal Rifi who is a long-time friend of Hazem El Masri told Daily Mail Australia he was surprised to hear that Hazem was faced with charges in relation to assaulting his new wife.
‘It’s a tragedy and we are yet to find out exactly what happened… It was a shock to even read about it,’ said Mr Rifi.
Although Mr Rifi said he had seen Mr El Masri out and about with his former wife Arwa Abousamra on many occasions in the past, he confirmed he had never met or seen Mr El Masri’s new wife or seen her with him at any community events.
Ms El-Cherif did not need to go to hospital after the incident on Monday at her home with Hazem El Masri
It comes the day after Mr El Masri’s ex-wife and the mother of his three children publicly defended the character of the former Bulldogs winger.
Mr El Masri was charged on Monday evening with serious domestic violence offences against his second wife, Mr El Cherif, including assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Arwa Abousamra, who he was married to previously for 13 years, had written a letter saying El Masri ‘never as much raised his voice at me’ during their time together.
Ms Abousamra, an author,posted a smiling picture of her with her three, happy children, and said her many well-wishers had proven ‘there is still much love in the world’.
‘And… I would like to tell you that the kids and I are well, may Allah bless you all,’ she said.
Arwa Abousamra released a warm and smiling family selfie in the car on Wednesday morning
In the ‘media release’ posted on her Facebook page, Arma Abousamra writes ‘Hazem’s
respect for women in beyond reproach as is his character’
In a media release on Tuesday night, Ms Abousamra, who split from El Masri in 2014 after 18 years as a couple, said her former partner’s respect for women was ‘beyond reproach, as is his character’.
She challenges anyone who wants ‘to know who Hazem El Masri is, ask me’.
A NSW police spokeswoman said the former Bulldogs winger, 39, has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.
Ms Abousamra’s letter was published on Tuesday, after El Masri was charged following an alleged incident involving his present wife, Douah El-Cherif, 25, on Monday night at about 7.30.
Police said the incident occurred at El Masri’s south-western Sydney home.
Arwa Abousamra (left) and Hazem El Masri (right) shocked fans when they announced their split in 2014. His
first wife spoke out on Tuesday to defend her ex-husband. They have three children together
‘I’ve known him for 18 years and for 13 of those years we were happily married,’ she wrote.
‘We share three gems together and in our journey of parenting it would always be me who sends the kids to the corner because Hazem just doesn’t have the heart,
‘To believe he would ever strike a woman is incomprehensible.’
She wrote that the ‘countless women in his life’ could be asked about his character and respect for women.
An AVO has been lodged for the protection of El Masri’s wife for the next 28 days. He must not approach or contact her by any means, the order said.
El Masri, who won the premiership in 2004 with the Bulldogs, was granted conditional bail and will appear at Bankstown Local Court on Thursday.
The NRL has now cut its ties with the former star, who was an ambassador for the league.
Outgoing chief executive Dave Smith said the charges against El Masri are ‘abhorrent’.
‘There is absolutely no place for domestic violence in our game,’ Mr Smith said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘It’s abhorrent to us. I don’t know the details of that case but I can say that any ambassadorial role that he was playing with us, he’s been stood down from.’
El Masri, who was often referred to as ‘El Magic’, retired from rugby league in 2009 as one of the game’s most prolific goal-kickers.
He grew up in Tripoli during the Lebanese civil war and moved to Australia at age 11 and was widely regarded as a positive role model for youth in Sydney’s south-west.
Since his retirement, he has worked in the community service sector and was as an ambassador for the White Ribbon Foundation, a movement to stop violence against women.
A 2006 Fairfax profile described him as ‘league’s pin-up boy for good behaviour’ and the ‘best role model the game has’.’
In an interview with Australian Story, Nine commentator Ray Warren described him as ‘one of the real gentlemen of the code’.
‘In 41 years of sports commentating, I’ve seen a lot of footballers come and go,’ he said.
‘But I have no doubt Hazem El Masri will leave a lasting impression on rugby league, as he will on Australia. He’s the man we call ‘El Magic’.’
In a statement, White Ribbon Foundation CEO Libby Davies said the organisation was ‘very disappointed’ to learn of the charges.
‘White Ribbon advises that Hasem El-Masri is not currently a White Ribbon Ambassador and as always, White Ribbon will provide no further comment on a case before the courts.’
The Bulldogs suspended him from working as a Bulldogs ambassador until the charges work through the legal system.
Mr El Masri’s manager, Jake Fraser from Sunstar Entertainment, declined to comment.