Model and actor Omar Sharif Jr., the grandson of Egyptian screen icon Omar Sharif, has revealed not only that that he is gay but also that his mother is Jewish.
In a passionate article posted in The Advocate, Sharif, who resides in LA, lamented the fate of Egypt after the 2011 revolution: “The vision for a freer, more equal Egypt — a vision that many young patriots gave their lives to see realized in Tahrir Square — has been hijacked. The full spectrum of equal and human rights are now wedge issues used by both the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces and the Islamist parties, when they should be regarded as universal truths.”
He continued: “That my mother is Jewish is no small disclosure when you are from Egypt, no matter the year. And being openly gay has always meant asking for trouble, but perhaps especially during this time of political and social upheaval. With the victories of several Islamist parties in recent elections, a conversation needs to be had and certain questions need to be raised. I ask myself: Am I welcome in the new Egypt?
“Will being Egyptian, half Jewish, and gay forever remain mutually exclusive identities? Are they identities to be hidden?”
Judaism is matrilineal according to the Halacha, or Jewish law, which means if a mother is Jewish her offspring are also considered Jewish. Hence, Sharif would be considered fully Jewish. Muslim tradition, however, is patrilineal, meaning the faith is passed down via the father.