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Egyptian singer to face charges over photos with Israelis

Mohamed Ramadan accused of causing ‘offense’ to Egyptians after he was seen in picture with singer Omer Adam and soccer player Diaa Sabia

A man in Cairo holds a phone showing a picture of Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan posted by the official Facebook page of the State of Israel in Arabic (linked to the Foreign Ministry) depicting Ramadan (C) hugging Israeli singer Omer Adam (L) on a Dubai rooftop, November 22, 2020. (Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)
A man in Cairo holds a phone showing a picture of Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan posted by the official Facebook page of the State of Israel in Arabic (linked to the Foreign Ministry) depicting Ramadan (C) hugging Israeli singer Omer Adam (L) on a Dubai rooftop, November 22, 2020. (Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

An Egyptian court is to hear a case against prominent singer and actor Mohamed Ramadan, after photos emerged of him posing with Israeli celebrities, local media reported Monday.

The reports said a lawyer has filed a case accusing Ramadan of causing “offense to the Egyptian people” with the pictures, which sparked charges on social media of “betraying” the Palestinians.

The case is to be heard on December 19.

Also on Monday, the syndicate of Egyptian artists said on Facebook that it was suspending Ramadan’s membership until he is questioned “at the latest in the first week of December.”

Ramadan, a 32-year-old actor and rapper, boasts millions of followers in the Arab world. He is a close friend of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and won the 2019 All Africa Music Awards prize.

Ramadan came under fire over the weekend after Emirati journalist Hamad Al Mazrouei tweeted a photo of the star embracing Israeli singer Omer Adam during a trip to the United Arab Emirates. He captioned the shot: “The most famous artist in Egypt with the most famous artist in Israel, Dubai brings us together.” However, he later deleted the picture as outrage grew.

The picture gained further traction when it was retweeted by the State of Israel’s Arabic Twitter account under the caption “Art brings us together.”

Mediterranean music star Adam, 27, is one of Israel’s most well-known singers, with his “Shnei Meshugaim” single viewed over 61 million times on YouTube, and numerous other singles racking up over 30 million views. A dual US-Israel citizen, he has made several appearances in Dubai in recent months.

Another widely shared photo of Ramadan, with Israeli soccer player Diaa Sabia, also caused a stir online, with the hashtag “Mohamed Ramadan is a Zionist” trending on Twitter.

A man in Cairo holds a phone showing a picture of Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan posted by the official Facebook page of the State of Israel in Arabic (linked to the Foreign Ministry) depicting Ramadan (R) hugging Israeli soccer player Diaa Sabia in Dubai, November 22, 2020. (Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Though Egypt officially has ties with Israel, its government has not encouraged a warm peace with the Jewish state and normalization remains frowned upon there. That is in stark contrast to the UAE, which has attempted to foster cultural exchange and warm relations between peoples in its brand-new normalization with Israel.

In what appeared to be an attempt at damage control on Saturday, Ramadan appeared to remark that he was unaware or unconcerned by Adam’s heritage.

Ramadan posted a picture of himself with fans, saying: “There is no room for me to ask everyone about his identity, color, nationality, and religion.”

The landmark peace accord between Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was signed in Washington on March 26, 1979, but has remained a cold peace between the two nations.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi welcomed the normalization deal between Israel and the UAE when it was announced, voicing his support for “any steps that would bring peace” to the Middle East.

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