Popular Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab was referred on Wednesday to a Cairo Misdemeanor Court for "inciting propaganda" over her comments at an August 2016 concert in Lebanon about the presence of the Bilharzia parasite in the Nile, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.
During the concert, a fan asked Sherine to perform her 2007 popular song “Mashrebtesh Men Nilha” (Have you not drunk from her Nile?) which extols Egypt's beauty, to which the singer jokingly responded “You will get Bilharzia if you do," adding that fan would be better off drinking the mineral water brand Avian.
On Tuesday, a video of the incident surfaced online and went viral on social media networks in Egypt, stirring controversy.
The Bilharzia disease - which is caused by water-borne parasites living in ponds and closed streams and targets blood capillaries and damages liver and other organs -. had in past decades afflicted many across the Egyptian countryside, where people used water in small branches of the Nile for bathing and recreational swimming.
However, after years of aggressively combating the disease through national health and media campaigns, the government successfully reduced the once high infection rate from 40 percent in the Egyptian countryside in the 1980s down to 0.2 percent today, according to Egypt's Ministry of Health.
Lawyer Hany Gad filed a legal complaint against Sherine after the video of the incident surfaced, accusing the popular singer of insulting the state and spreading false information that could have a negative effect on tourism at a time when the country aims to revive this key industry.
Also on Tuesday, Sherine issued a lengthy apology on her Facebook page, saying the comment was naive and unintentional, adding that she had forgotten about the incident and was surprised to see the clip.
“My beloved Egypt and Egyptians, I am sorry with all my heart for any pain or offence I’ve caused any of you, and God knows how much I love this country and am dedicated to it… I promise to be more wary in the future of any naive mistakes that could put me in such a regretful position,” she said.