Egypt's prosecution investigates condom balloon prank

Ahram Online , Wednesday 27 Jan 2016

Fate still unknown for 2 pranksters

Ahmed Malek
Still from G4 film of Ahmed Malek

Egypt's prosecution has opened an investigation into a complaint filed by a police officer following 'inflated condom' prank incident.

On the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution, a video - that has attracted almost 2 million viewers - showed Shady Abu Zaid, a 22 year-old comedian reporter for the well-known satire show Abla Fahita, and prominent young actor Ahmed Malek, handing out balloons made of inflated condoms to police officers in Tahrir Square.

The video went viral on social media, prompting uproar among police sympathisers and support among some other activists who have few avenues through which to express their views.

Lawyer of Malek, Tarek El-Khouly, told Ahram Online on Tuesday that until now the charges being investigated by the prosecution against the two young men should not result in jail time.

"The charges the prosecution are looking into are defaming the state's interior ministry body. This charge, according to the law, should just lead to a fine," says El-Khouly.

The prosecution on Wednesday has expressed urgency in locating the exact location from where the video was shot.

Meanwhile, the head of Kasr El-Nil Prosecution Deyaa Negm El-Din will listen to the testimonies of police officers who appeared in the video.

The two young men issued differing public statements on their Facebook pages; Malek apologised to all police officers while AbuZaid stood firm on his views.

AbuZaid's statement

Late Tuesday, 24 hours after the video was posted on social media, AbuZaid wrote a public "elaboration" on his Facebook page saying that, although he feels that his days out of prison are few, he is still satisfied.

In his statement, the young satirist stressed that the video was part of a series posted on social media.

"The Constitution of the Republic of Egypt that was approved in 2014 explicitly protects freedom of speech and creativity, and holds all bodies of state up to the duty of protecting those expressing their opinion and creativity," says AbuZaid. 

He then highlighted that the video did not contain any footage that "is prohibited by the law, whether in terms of defamation of any person or body (as the parties reporting me otherwise claim), nor did it contain any instigation for violence or discrimination against the state or civilians; It didn't go beyond being a satire video."
By the end of his statement AbuZaid said "the party responsible for my safety is the main entity endangering my well-being and freedom."

Police officers refuse apology, unknown fate for the pranksters 

AbuZaid's last quote in his statement came following claims by several police officers who decided to react to the video stressing that they will revenge him and Malek by the law.

Many officers have expressed on their social media their uproar while refusing the official apology made by the young actor Malek.

"I apologise to everyone who saw the video as offensive, and especially to the police. The video indeed has some encroachments that I didn't expect to be shared outside my circle of friends. I'm only 20 and at such an age, reckless ideas always precede rational thinking…I regret such moments, and I tried to delete the video but it went viral before I could save the situation," Malek wrote. 

The young actor posted this apology on Tuesday following his suspension from working at the actors syndicate.

The fate of the two pranksters is still unknown. Twitter hashtags concerning the incident on social media pages are still trending between some who see the incident as 'inappropriate', some calling for the arrest of the two young men while others believe that no one should be questioned nor tried for ‘jokes'.

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