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The New Arab Staff

'Palestine is number one', says Egyptian singer after taking 'unaware' photo with Israeli singer

Mohamed Ramadan is an Egyptian singer [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 November, 2020

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Mohamed Ramadan denied knowing Omer Adam was Israeli after he received backlash for taking a photo with the singer, and said that 'Palestine is number one'

Popular Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan affirmed his support for Palestine and denied knowingly posing for photos with Israelis following a backlash from fans who reacted angrily to a selfie he took with a singer and a footballer from Israel.

The popular Egyptian singer appeared in a photo with Israel's Omer Adam and Hamad Al-Mazrouie, an advisor to UAE strongman Mohammed bin Zayed, during a trip to Dubai.

The photo was posted by a Twitter account affiliated with the Israeli foreign ministry which is dedicated to reaching an Arabic audience. Al-Mazrouie also posted the image but quickly deleted it.

In a statement made after the backlash, Ramadan said that he is “not a security guard” and doesn’t ask for fans’ nationalities before posing for a photo, according to popular Arabic-language celebrity website Fe El Fan.

Ramadan said he “takes hundreds of pictures daily with fans and admirers during his daily tours in any country he visits,” and that he took those photos when he was in the UAE, which now allows Israeli tourists to enter its territory.

Ramadan added that this is not the first time an Arab celebrity “accidentally” took a photo with Israelis.

“Anyone can Google Arab celebrities with Israelis and you’ll see that this is a very common accidental occurrence,” he said. 

He added that, “Palestine is number one", using the title of his hit song Number One

"I salute the brotherly Palestinian people.”

Ramadan also said that it is not in his interest to “provoke his large fanbase”, and that there was no logical reason why he would intentionally take a photo with an Israeli.

Read more: Popular Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan sentenced to one year in prison for slander

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

Before he issued his statement, some Twitter users predicted that he would deny that he knew the people in the photo were Israeli

“Tomorrow Mohamed Ramadan will claim that Omer Adam is the one that wanted the picture, that he didn’t know he was Israeli and will ask for forgiveness from his fans,” one Twitter user said when the photo was uploaded, using the Arabic hashtag “normalisation is betrayal”.

On Monday, an Egyptian lawyer filed a case accusing Ramadan of causing "offence to the Egyptian people" through the pictures.

The case will be heard by a court on December 19.

Also on Monday, the Egyptian Artists' Syndicate said on Facebook that it was suspending Ramadan's membership until he is questioned over the photo "at the latest in the first week of December".

Omer Adam made headlines last month after he was invited to Dubai to sing at a religious celebration at the request of an Emirati royal.

Another widely shared photo of him with Israeli footballer Diaa Saba also caused a stir online, with the hashtag "Mohamed Ramadan is a Zionist" trending on Twitter.

In August, US President Donald Trump announced that the UAE had become the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to normalize ties with Israel, with Bahrain and Sudan following suit a few weeks afterwards.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country is in talks with other Arab and Muslim states regarding normalising relations.

While some Arab leaders have shown enthusiasm for normalisation UAE, public opinion in the Arab World is overwhelmingly opposed to normalisation.

A poll published by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in early October showed that 88 percent of Arabs reject normalisation with Israel.

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