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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 January 2021

Mohamed Ramadan to face Egyptian court over viral pictures with Israelis at Dubai party

The rapper and actor was snapped with Israeli singer Omer Adam and footballer Dia Saba on a recent trip to Dubai

Egyptian superstar Mohamed Ramadan launched his single Ya Habibi in Dubai. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Egyptian superstar Mohamed Ramadan launched his single Ya Habibi in Dubai. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Popular Egyptian film star and rapper Mohamed Ramadan faces a court hearing and has been suspended by the country’s actors’ guild over a photograph shared online of him posing with an Israeli singer and a footballer during a recent visit to Dubai.

The guild, like most Egyptian trade and professional unions, prohibits its members from associating with Israelis as part of an anti-normalisation campaign that began when Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979.

Ramadan, who goes by the nickname “Number One”, faces a trial on December 19 after lawyer Tariq Mahmoud lodged a complaint with the Summary Proceedings Court in Cairo. The lawyer accuses the artist of insulting the Egyptian people when he posed for the photo with Israeli singer Omer Adam and another with Dia Saba, an Israeli footballer with UAE club Al Nasr.

Although the initial picture was deleted, it was shared widely, including by an Arab-language Twitter account for the state of Israel which retweeted it with the caption: “Art brings us together.”

Egyptian laws do not criminalise dealing with Israelis and it was not immediately clear which law would cover “insulting Egyptians”. But it is not uncommon in Egypt for individuals to be tried for actions not specifically listed in the criminal code but, for example, deemed harmful or threatening to social peace.

The Egyptian Journalists’ Union also took action against Ramadan, instructing its members on Monday night not to publish or broadcast the news or images of the artist pending the completion of the investigation into his case by an association of artists’ unions, including the actors’ guild. Those who breach the ban, the union said, will face disciplinary measures.

Ramadan took to social media to defend himself, saying: “I don’t know nor do I ask about the nationality of everyone I take a photo with ... I never ask about his colour, religion, or nationality. All of us are human.”

The image, in which Ramadan has his arms around the Israeli artist, went viral on social media at the weekend in Egypt. Separately, a video clip posted online shows Ramadan smiling while having his arm wrapped around the shoulder of an unidentified man as the traditional Israeli folk song Hava Nagila played at what appeared to be a rooftop party in Dubai.

Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel ended decades of conflict in which the two Middle Eastern neighbours fought four wars between 1948 and 1973. But while the two governments have since remained diligently committed to peace and co-operate closely on security issues, most Egyptians are yet to drop their perception of Israel as their country’s adversary.

Updated: November 24, 2020 06:22 PM

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