Egypt's Union of Artistic Syndicates to convene over Mohamed Ramadan's alleged 'normalisation with Israel'

Ahram Online , Monday 23 Nov 2020

Ramadan is under fire for posing in photos with Israeli celebrities in the UAE

Ashraf Zaki
Ashraf Zaki, the head of the actors syndicate

The Egyptian Actors Syndicate called on the Union of Artistic Syndicates to hold an urgent meeting, scheduled for Monday afternoon, to take "decisive decisions" regarding the allegation of "normalising with Israel" levelled at popular actor/singer Mohamed Ramadan.

Ashraf Zaki, head of the actors syndicate, had issued a statement on Sunday urging the union to convene one day after heated controversy erupted over photos and videos that spread on social media platforms of Ramadan with a number of Israeli artists and footballers at an "artistic gathering" in the UAE.

In the statement, the syndicate board strictly called for an urgent action regarding what they described as "an individual behaviour from one member," stressing the full support to the Palestinian people's rights, agreed by all Egyptian and Arab artistic syndicate members and unions.

"The syndicate board fully realises the difference between official treaties Arab governments are committed to and the public, cultural, and artistic position regarding the normalisation issue," explained the syndicate, referring to Israel as "the usurping entity."

Controversial photos

On Monday morning, Ramadan posted the Palestinian flag as his social media cover photo after explaining to the public that he had taken hundreds of photos with fans during a visit to an Arab country, stressing "he does not ask about each fan’s nationality or identity."

The controversy began when various official Arabic social media accounts run by the Israeli government posted a number of photos of Ramadan "the great actor" alongside several Israeli celebrities in the UAE, expressing how arts bring nations together.

Mohamed Ramadan

Cultural collaborations between Israeli and Arab artists have been celebrated repeatedly by Israel in recent weeks in the wake of the UAE and Bahrain signing US-sponsored normalisation agreements with Israel in mid-August.

The normalization deals were opposed by many Palestinians and supporters of their cause worldwide. A sizable bloc of these supporters are Ramadan's audience.

Ramadan has proven to be one of the most famous Egyptian and Arab artists in the world, with his extensive collection of commercially successful films, TV shows, and rap songs in the past decade, gaining followership among tens of millions worldwide.

"I say it loud and clear, we are the only artistic syndicate to cancel the membership of one of its members because of normalisation with Israel," Zaki said on local TV Saturday, referring to Ali Salem, a prominent writer who was immensely criticised for his ties with Israelis towards the end of the late president Anwar El-Sadat’s rule.

On 22 October, the Egyptian Union of Artistic Syndicates, which represents the actors, musicians and cinematic syndicates, called on its members to follow the 25 January 1996 general assembly decisions that asserted earlier decisions of the board on 19 January 1980 "to ban any form of ties with the Zionist entity and its supporters."

The union made the announcement in the wake of the controversy stirred over El Gouna Film Festival's declaration it was planning to honour Israel-linked actor Gerard Depardieu.  

The UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan are the first Arab nations to sign peace deals with Israel since the Camp David Accords with Egypt in 1979 and the Wadi Araba Agreement with Jordan in 1994.

The Palestinian Authority strongly criticized these deals.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied internationally recognised Palestinian land, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians seek a future state that includes East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 War. 

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