Egyptian TV actor Karim Kassem revealed that he is Jewish in front of a live studio audience on a talk show last week.
The 30-year-old star, whose father is Muslim but whose mother was Jewish, said he discovered his heritage when he was a boy, by accident, when he came home from school and started complaining to his sister about Jews.
“The Jews have done this and that, they have big noses and are stingy,” Kassem recalled saying in an interview with host Mona Elshazly.
His sister turned to him and said, “Karim! You don’t know? Your mom is Jewish!”
Kassem revealed that he was ashamed of being Jewish as a child, and that his family would celebrate Christian and Muslim holidays alongside Jewish ones.
He said that revealing his secret publicly has “lifted a burden off his shoulders.”
Several fans praised Kassem for the decision to publicly reveal his roots, which he said affirmed his faith in the future of his generation.
“The positive reactions have given me so much positive energy. As a child, I felt like the son of a black sheep, but now I can say I am proud of who I am,” he told Elshazly.
Kassem’s late mother was a member of a dwindling Jewish community that 90 years ago, at its peak, comprised some 80,000 members, but has since dropped to less than 40. Jews are also often depicted as stingy or evil on Egyptian television.