In a vile prank conducted by an Egyptian television station, a well-known Syrian singer was taken on a pleasure cruise off the Egyptian coast, and then arrested by purported Israeli naval forces, interrogated at gunpoint at an elaborately constructed faux Israeli army base, and led out for execution, with a gun put to his head.
The hoax, screened by Egypt’s Al-Hayat TV, is one of a rash of such tasteless pranks filmed and screened by various TV stations in the Arab world to coincide with the current Ramadan festivities.
The victim was the Syrian actor Bassem Yakhour, who was taken out for a pleasure cruise in a yacht at Egypt’s Sharm e-Sheikh Red Sea resort along with a small group of other passengers, all of whom were in on the hoax.
First a helicopter appears overhead, and then two fast boats close in on the yacht, firing into the air. The boats fly Israeli-style flags. Uniformed “Israelis” board the yacht, and tell the passengers they are under arrest for entering Israeli territorial waters.
Yakhour is then blindfolded and taken to land — to an “Israeli” army base on the beach, complete with watch-towers, Hebrew signs, buildings bearing Stars of David, and Hebrew-speaking soldiers.
He is then interrogated at gunpoint. Sounds of ostensible torture, screams and dogs barking are audible to him as he is questioned. “We were in the Egyptian water,” Yakhour protests in English to his captors. “I swear. You kidnapped us. You brought us here.” Later, he pleads: “I’m not the captain of the ship.”
In a cut-away shot from a separate room, the hoaxer, an Egyptian entertainer, turns to the camera and says, laughing, “Sorry, but this is my livelihood.”
The cruel “Israelis,” unimpressed by Yakhour’s protestations of innocence, now march him out of the interrogation room and force him to his knees on the sand outside. An “Israeli” officer puts a gun to the back of his head. Yakhour plainly believes he is about to be executed.
Then a burst of gunfire rings out, people start running in all directions, and Yakhour is pulled to his feet and encouraged to flee.
The hoaxer now appears alongside Yakhour, and urges him, “Run! Come on! Don’t be afraid!”
Eventually, Yakhour sinks to his knees, recognizing the prank, and looking drained and furious.
Israel’s Channel 2 news, which screened the Al-Hayat footage on Monday night, said the prank ended with the hoaxer and victim reconciled, and declaring to the cameras that they would “never come to terms with Israel.”
Last week, in a similarly heartless prank by a different Arabic TV station, an Egyptian actress named Lucy was persuaded that the small plane in which she was flying over Dubai had lost its engine and was crashing, and that she would die if she did not parachute out.