Users on social media decried Tuesday the actions of two TV figures who distrusted inflated condoms bearing phrases such as “from Egypt’s youth to the police” to security forces on the anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. Public censure followed the circulation of video footage filmed by Ahmed Malik, one of the two figures who distributed the condoms.
The Actors Syndicate suspended Malik, a 20-year-old Egyptian actor, referred him to investigations for his part in the video. According to actor and senior member of the syndicate’s board of directors Sameh El-Sereity, Malik is not a member of the syndicate.
“He is granted authorisations issued by the syndicate, which have now been suspended. He has been referred to investigation for publicly insulting the Egyptian people, not only the police,” El-Sereity said.
A segment of social media users severely criticised Malik in comments that considered the footage insulting to police forces on their national day of celebration. Others comments portrayed the video as an act of public indecency.
Malik, along with satirical reporter Shady Hussein, who works for the television show “El-Duplex” hosted by the famous puppet Abla Fahita, produced a two-minute video, in which they used the prophylactics to make balloon-like objects that bore sardonic remarks aimed at the police forces.
The two actors walked around Tahrir Square on Monday distributing the inflated condoms to policemen, who were securing the area on the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution.
After receiving widespread criticism, Malik issued a public apology on his Facebook account Tuesday in which he expressed “regret for acting foolishly and for offending the people, especially the police.”
However, Malik also emphasised that his act was motivated by the Egyptian State’s curtailment of the freedom of speech. “Perhaps my actions reflect a feeling of frustration shared by my generation, stemming from the impossibility for us to freely express our opinions,” Malik wrote. Malik pre-emptively dismissed those that would call this reason a false pretext for his actions.
Malik ended his apology by claiming that he expects public debate over the issue of free speech to continue warned against attempts to use his “mistake” to distort young revolutionaries.
Malik’s apology failed to assuage public anger. A complaint was filed to the Prosecutor-General by several lawyers, including Samir Sabry who is known for suing public figures.
Neither Malik nor Hussein were available for immediate comment. Social media users launched a hashtag campaign to “boycott [the] Abla Fahita show”. The “El-Duplex” show issued an official statement condemning Hussein’s actions.
“The programme renouces its responsibility for the personal actions and views of Shady Hussein, since we assure there are no connections with the latter outside the framework of his job at the show, as an external reporter,” the statement said.
The statement described the video as “insulting and unacceptable”, which resulted in social media users criticising the statement as an indication that the show would abandon Hussein to avoid clashing with the National Security Apparatus.
“This statement is not for the public; it is aimed at the government so that the programme is not cancelled,” one Facebook user wrote.
“I am surprised that the programme wants nothing to do with Hussein and thinks his actions are demeaning…isn’t that what he was taught at your show?”, another user wrote.