An Egyptian court is to hear a case against prominent celebrity Mohamed Ramadan after photos emerged of him posing with an Israeli singer and footballer in Dubai, local media said.
On Saturday, Israel's official Facebook page in Arabic posted a photo of Ramadan hugging Israeli singer Omer Adam on a rooftop in the UAE city of Dubai, after the country signed a normalization deal with Israel in September. Another widely shared photo of him with Israeli footballer Diaa Saba also caused a stir online.
The reports said a lawyer has filed a case accusing Ramadan of causing "offense to the Egyptian people" with the pictures which have sparked charges on social media of "betraying" the Palestinians. The case is to be heard on December 19.
Also on Monday, the union of Egyptian artists said on Facebook it was suspending Ramadan's membership until he is questioned "at the latest in the first week of December".
Ramadan then issued a statement claiming he did not know the two men he was taking pictures with were Israeli and the his fans for showing a lack of support.
"I respect the union's decision, despite clarifying that I did not know at all what his [Omer Adam's] identity was, and if I had known then for sure I would have refused to be photographed with him," he said. "Thank you: the union, the production company that canceled my planned series, and thank you to my audience for not supporting me. I trust in God only."
Ramadan, a 32-year-old actor and rapper, boasts millions of followers in the Arab world, is a close friend of Morocco's King Mohamed VI and won the 2019 All Africa Music Awards prize.
He is known for playing a member of Egyptian military on a TV show, which prompted some to say he is a disgrace to the part he is playing.
As a result, a hashtag "Mohamed Ramadan is a Zionist" was trending on Twitter. The celebrity has shot back, saying: "I don't ask which country the person who wants to take a photo with me comes from unless they say themselves."
He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Palestinian people and changed his profile photo to an image of a Palestinian flag.
Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel but relations have remained cold, with many Egyptians fiercely opposed to Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.