CAIRO: Two conscript soldiers featured in a prank video said Wednesday they were “deeply hurt” after being mocked for accepting inflated condoms they thought were balloons from two actors; the actors have been slammed by colleagues and may face censure from their unions.
The two told the prosecution Wednesday they did not know what condoms were prior to the incident, saying they and their families in Upper Egypt, known for its conservatism, were “deeply offended” by the video, in which their faces were not blurred. An officer and three lawyers filed complaints against two young men who staged it, Youm7 reported.
“Thanks for the support of everyone who doesn’t know me. See you in a different world, my dears, where we can be free, laugh without getting jailed,” comedian Shady AbuZaid wrote on Facebook Tuesday after security sources told several local newspapers that AbuZaid had been arrested.
The two police conscripts complained they accepted inflated condoms from comedian Ahmed AbuZaid and actor Ahmed Malek under the impression they were balloons to celebrate Police Day on Jan. 25.
They also said they were “hurt” that police sacrifices were met with “such mockery.” A total of 138 policemen were killed in “terrorist attacks” in 2015, according to the Interior Ministry.
At least two men purporting to be officers posted videos on social media, denouncing the video. They mainly mourned their fellow policemen and empathized with the underprivileged soldiers who did not know they were given condoms.
An informed judicial source told Youm7 that the two young men may face charges of making a video that “offends modesty,” and carrying out an “indecent act in public.”
Human Rights lawyer Tarek al-Awady told O News Agency (ONA) he would represent AbuZaid and Malek in any potential trials.
Careers at risk
Malek, 20, has been banned from acting by the Actors’ Union after the video went viral, although he posted an apology on Facebook Tuesday, saying his action may have stemmed from his “generation’s frustration at the lack of freedom of expression these days.”
Malek’s career is uncertain after several fellow actors, such as Hesham Selim and Ahmed Bedair, slammed him, and producers hinted they would not hire him once more.
Producer Hany Osama threatened he may remove Malek’s scenes from his new movie Hepta, which is still being shot, Youm7 reported.
Meanwhile, Abla Fahita’s show, for which AbuZaid works as a correspondent, stated on Facebook that AbuZaid “does not represent” the program, and that the team of Abla Fahita “categorically rejects” his video.
“It is a strange feeling that one day you are loved, the entire media is all for you and wants you with them because you are talented; the next day you find a war launched against you by all parties only because you said what you want to say, not what they want you to say,” AbuZaid wrote on Facebook, expressing his fear of going to jail.
He also noted that while some people criticize his family for his upbringing, his father “has always believed and supported the regime… and by the way that is us… our ideas are different from our families’.”
Reminders of “police brutality” on social media
Arabic hashtags dubbed “in solidarity with Shady, the battle of the condom, and the condom” have gone viral on social media. Some users expressed their disgust at the joke, while others accompanied their posts with incidents of police brutality.
The angry reactions at the prank revived videos and pictures of apparent abuse by the police from the events of the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and 2012, and even from the era of former President Hosni Mubarak.
They also compared AbuZaid and Malek’s “indecent act” with the infamous scene of Egyptian soldiers stomping and stripping a protester to her blue bra in 2011.
Widely shared with pictures and videos, Egyptians on social media posed questions why AbuZaid and Malek should be punished for “a joke,” while the police allegedly enjoy impunity in cases of murder and torture.
Policemen who killed protesters on streets during the 2011 uprising largely remained unidentified. Officers who were tried for killing protesters who surrounded police stations were acquitted on self-defense grounds.
Only two policemen are serving terms, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; one of the officers is Capt. Tamer Refat, who was caught on camera shooting a Cairo woman on her balcony as her son filmed the protests below.
Similarly, no policemen were tried over the killing of hundreds of Islamist protesters during the 2013 dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in, or the following demonstrations.
In a rare sentence of its kind, Lieutenant Yassin Salah el-Din was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh during the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the revolution in 2015.