in bed, but not the way his kidnappers wanted (Photo: Ahram file)
An Egyptian man was severely beaten after an Iraqi gang tried to kidnap and force him to film pornographic videos because of his astonishing resemblance to former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
Mohamed Bishr says he was on his way on Sunday to a café in the bustling downtown area of Egypt's second city of Alexandria when three men wearing black suits tried to force him into the back of a van.
"The three men, who had guns hanging from their belts, forced me out of my car and shoved me into a van, hitting my head," Bishr, a devout Muslim, told Ahram's Arabic portal from his hospital bed.
The incident was short but traumatic. Bishr said the last thing he remembers was the men yelling at each other, and then throwing him out of the van where he hit his face on the pavement.
Passers-by quickly gathered around but were too afraid to apprehend the apparently armed kidnappers.
Bishr's son, Mahmoud, said that his father had previously met with a group of unidentified people -- who spoke Arabic in an Iraqi or Syrian dialect -- and had been offered LE2 million pounds (US$333,000) to impersonate the late dictator in a pornographic video. Bishr refused.
His son said that after the meeting his father had received several telephone calls threatening him with kidnap if he didn't change his mind and shoot the Saddam sex tape.
It is believed his kidnappers would have tried to pass off the video recording they made as genuine and sell it to international media.
This was not the first time Bishr has been harassed because of his looks, according to his sons. They said other Iraqis in Egypt had previously assaulted their father, telling him "you are Saddam Hussein and we will turn you in for the million-dollar reward."
Bishr has changed his residence four times to avoid such harrassment, they claimed.
"We asked the police to put special protection on our father, because this has happened to us several times," said Mahmoud.
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, executed in Baghdad in 2006, was rumoured to have used the services of several doubles to make public appearances in his place.
None are thought to have performed in adult films.