An American college student of Palestinian extraction got his 15 minutes of fame when he pranked a local news reporter, telling her he was the victim of a campus crime and that his name was “Abu Sharmouta,” which in Arabic mean “father of a prostitute.”
KTRK ABC 13’s Crystal Kobza reported from the University of Houston after six students were robbed at gunpoint in a residence hall. She thought she had the journalistic good fortune of stumbling upon one of the victims, who came up to her and offered to tell his story.
“In the final days of the fall semester, Abu Sharmouta says he was just studying through the night before taking his last final exam today,” Kobza reported, “when he along with several other students were held at gunpoint at the U of H campus.”
It turns out that the student, whose real name is Sayyed Jamal Hamideh, was not at all involved in the incident, and he made up the name on the spot.
“I was told there was a robbery and I convinced my friends to come with me to where the news trucks were,” the self-satisfied prankster told Al Arabiya. “I had just pulled an all-nighter and I wanted to get my friends’ minds off of finals.”
“On the way we were joking about different names and Abu Sharmouta came up,” he said, “and we thought that was a funny name to try.”
“I guess it worked.”
He told Kouza that he saw three black males, two with red-hooded sweatshirts, bust into a basement room with guns. He said he then ran out and hid in a bush for more than an hour. Hamideh also said he recognized one of the assailants from pickup basketball games and that he felt unsafe on campus.
The stunt was picked up by outlets across the Arab world, surprising the young man, who moved to America at the age of six.
Man all this love Im receiving from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, etc. is truly humbling.Wallahi Im just glad I could put a smile on some faces
— Sayed Jamal Hamideh (@ThatPancakeKid) December 16, 2013
Hamideh did show some sympathy for the reporter he tricked, however.
“Hey yall,’ he tweeted, “everyone PLEASE go follow and tweet nice things at @CrystalKobza13 for being awesome and such good sport.”