CAIRO: Famed Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga is facing a wave of criticism by TV figures known for their loyalty to the regime after footage of him emerged saying President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi should leave if he is unable to do his job.
The video, posted by Bawaba News Saturday, showed Abol Naga criticizing what he said was “military thought” that will eventually “take the country downhill” and posed a greater threat than terrorism. Abol Naga, 48, added that “if [Sisi] cannot secure the country while preserving human rights, then he does not know how to deal with his position.”
“You are not even facing an intelligent enemy. You are facing those pseudo-Islamists; they are the stupidest we have ever seen in our lives. It is bizarre, there is nothing they do that does not make people hate them. And you cannot do your job?” Abol Naga told reporters in the video, which was filmed during the recent Cairo International Film Festival.
In response, a lawsuit accusing Abol Naga of “treason” was filed by lawyer Samir Sabry on Nov. 9, Sabry told Sada el-Balad channel Sunday.
Abol Naga, who is also a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, has previously condemned the 2013 Protest Law, and retweeted an Arabic hashtag that translates into “down with military thought.”
For his part, Sabry—who is already notorious for filing lawsuits against activists—on his Twitter account accused Abol Naga of “inciting the overthrow of the regime.”
Abol Naga also criticized the displacement of Sinai’s Bedouins to create a buffer zone on the border with Gaza, and the destruction of homes by the military there.
He went on to create the hashtag #Support_Naga after several Twitter users expressed solidarity with him.
Reactions to Abol Naga’s comments have been fierce.
TV personalities on private channels like Ahmed Moussa, Taufiq Okasha, Mazhar Shahin, Mohamed Sherdy and Gamal Enayet have severely criticized Abol Naga. Okasha went on a long, nearly three-minute monologue criticizing everything from the way Abol Naga sleeps to suggesting—but not outright saying—the leading man was a homosexual. The label puts a person’s reputation and even safety at risk in Egypt, where Muslims and Christians alike are perceived as conservative.
Moussa, who asked “if Abol Naga was ever drafted into the military like most Egyptian men,” invited the actor to lead military operations in Sinai, and said he lacked the expertise to make comments on the military.
He also interviewed Sabry over the phone on Sada el-Balad channel, where Sabry said that if Abol Naga had been conscripted, he would have been “outed as gay.”
On Tahrir Channel, Enayet called Abol Naga’s views “naive,” adding “if your opinion is Sisi should leave my opinion is that you keep silent.”
While Mehwar channel’s Sherdy underscored Abol Naga’s right to express his opinion and condemned the insults directed at him, he still challenged Abol Naga’s stance. Sherdy asked for his comment on the fact the military found dozens of smuggling tunnels under Sinai’s demolished homes.
Taking again to Twitter, Abol Naga responded to the insults by saying he reserved the right to sue every media body who attacked him for his “rightful opinion on the failure of Sisi.” He added that Egypt’s 2014 Constitution ensures freedom of expression.
Some, however, have supported Abol Naga.
A group of 49 cinema professionals and writers signed a Monday statement in solidarity with the actor, and demanded Sabry lose his law license. They said his lawsuits “represent the worst propaganda,” and actually damaged the government’s reputation.