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Egyptian celeb faces backlash over photo with Israeli singer

Ramadan banned from acting and singing

CAIRO, Nov 24, (AP): An Egyptian celebrity has sparked an uproar after a photo of him with an Israeli pop star was posted online, prompting angry rants from newscasters and Ramadan’s suspension from a stage and film professionals’ union.

Omer Adam, Hamad al-Mazroui and Mohamed Ramadan

The outcry over Egyptian actor-singer Mohamed Ramadan’s photograph with Israeli crooner Omer Adam highlights anti-Israel sentiment among most Egyptians who view any direct interaction with Israelis as taboo. The controversy began over the weekend when an Emirati journalist, Hamad al-Mazroui, posted a photo of Ramadan with his arm around Adam while both were in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, this month.

“The most famous artist in Egypt with the most famous artist in Israel. Dubai brings us together,” al-Mazroui wrote, before deleting the photo. An Arabic language twitter account for the state of Israel quickly retweeted the photo with the caption: “Art brings us together.” Ahmed Moussa, a well-known TV presenter loyal to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, slammed Ramadan’s action as “a fullfledged crime”. He called for the union to take “deterrence measures” to stop further interactions with Israelis.

Ashraf Zaki, head of the Theatrical Professions Syndicate, said late Monday in video comments that the union decided to suspend Ramadan pending an investigation which will take place the first week of December since the actor is currently in Dubai. Under the suspension, Ramadan is banned from acting and singing until the probe is complete.

Egypt became the first Arab country to make peace with Israel in 1979, and the two governments work closely together on security issues. But many Egyptians are still deeply opposed to what they call “popular normalization” with Israel. Jordan signed its own deal with Israel in 1994.

The UAE agreed earlier this year to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, followed shortly after by Bahrain and Sudan in US-brokered normalization deals known as the Abraham Accords. The breakthrough refl ects a changing Middle East in which Israel and the Gulf countries view Iran as a shared threat that eclipses the decades-old confl ict with the Palestinians.

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