Self-proclaimed Egyptian superstar Mohamed Ramadan has sparked heated political debate after taking selfies with an Israeli singer and footballer.
Ramadan, 32-year-old actor and rapper, has millions of followers in the Arab world, is a close friend of Moroccan King Mohamed VI and recipient of the 2019 All Africa Music Awards.
On Saturday, the State of Israel’s official Arabic Facebook page linked to the Foreign Ministry posted a Ramadan photo hugging Israeli singer Omer Adam on a rooftop in Dubai.
The image carried the caption “art always brings us together”.
A short video clip also surfaced on social media, showing Ramadan mingling with fans with the popular Jewish song “Hava Nagila” playing in the background.
And another widely shared photo of him with Israeli footballer Diaa Saba also caused a stir online.
The images and video sparked a storm of protests in Egypt, with many calling for a boycott of Ramadan and the hashtag “Mohamed Ramadan is a Zionist” trending on Twitter.
“The truth is, there is nothing but entertainment that brings the two of you together – not religion, not Arab identity, not mankind, not the land, not shared history,” said someone wrote on Facebook about Ramadan.
The controversial celebrity from Egypt, who regularly flaunts his flashy cars and extravagant lifestyle on social media, hit back critical fans by saying: “I’m not asking which country the person who wants to take a photo with is from. me unless she says to herself.
He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Palestinian people.
“Palestine is number one,” he wrote, based on the title of his massively popular song in the Arab world called “Number One”, adding: “Hail to the brotherly Palestinian people.”
Egypt is the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 – followed by Jordan in 1994 – but the deal has not gone well with many Egyptians who firmly oppose the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel.
The UAE normalized relations with the Jewish state earlier this year, in a move quickly followed by Bahrain and Sudan.
But not everyone was upset by Ramadan, as attitudes begin to change towards Israel in the region.
“This is the peace we are looking for … God bless you Mohamed Ramadan. Peace is the only solution in the Middle East,” wrote a Facebook user.
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