Many Arab celebrities and artists have expressed solidarity with Egyptian pop singer and composer Ramy Gamal after he announced that he has been diagnosed with vitiligo, a non-contagious, immunologic long-term disease that causes white patches in the skin.
"Alhamdulillah [thank God], who out of love for me has tested me and strengthened my patience. A while ago, some white patches appeared on my body, which turned out to be vitiligo," Gamal told his 5.3 million followers on Facebook early Monday.
Gamal said that he visited a number of doctors and tried different medications, but "it has just gotten worse due to sadness."
The 35-year-old singer also revealed that during concerts, some people showed apprehension about touching him out of fear that the disease could be contagious.
"For over a year, I made a lot of effort to hide [my condition] before concerts or video shoots, and people have suggested that I seek another career, and I thought deeply about their advice," he said.
"I have two options; either let go of the career I love and which is the only one I know, or not hide anymore and have you accept me," Gamal said, and called on people to show compassion for those afflicted with the disease.
Gamal's statement was immediately followed by shows of solidarity on social media, with dozens of Arab celebrities and well-known artists demanding that he carry on with his successful music career, including Lebanese pop star Elissa, who herself has battled with cancer.
"You have to continue your success, Ramy, and let go of your insecurities. Never hide yourself from the people that love you for your art and personality," pop star Tamer Hosni, who has collaborated frequently with Gamal, said in a long statement on Twitter.
Egyptian professor Hany El-Nazer, the former president of the National Research Centre, responded on Twitter to Gamal's statement by saying that "vitiligo is not dangerous or contagious."
Gamal is the first Arab celebrity in living memory to reveal that he has been afflicted with the disease, as opposed to dozens of Western celebrities, including the King of Pop Michael Jackson, who are known to have had the condition.
Gamal, who has released more than five pop albums, is also widely known as a composer, having collaborated with stars in the Arab region including Mohamad Hamaki, Mohamed Fouad, Tamer Ashour, Sherine Abdel-Wahab, Angham, Mohamed Nour, Mosafa Amar, Nawal El-Zoghby, and many others.
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