Cairo: Egypt’s celebrated singer Sherine, known for public gaffes, is caught in a new row over an alleged affront to her home country.
Several media outlets have claimed that the 37-year-old performer, one of the Arab world’s most famous, mockingly said at a concert on the New Year’s Eve in a Cairo hotel that Egypt is not worthy of her.
The alleged remark has brought Sherine under scathing criticism on popular TV shows and the social media.
“When the fans [at the concert] applauded her for her performance, she replied: ‘By God, I am too precious for Egypt. She has a problem in controlling her tongue,” said Tamer Amin, a well-known TV host at the private Al Nahar station. Amin claimed that Sherine sarcastically said when a table broke down at the same concert: “There is nothing unusual about this. You’re in Egypt!”
Amin condemned the purported comment as a “grave mistake over which there should be no silence”.
He called on the Musicians’ Syndicate, a professional union that licenses entertainers to work in Egypt, to take action against the singer.
“The syndicate should find a solution even if this means stopping her from singing live,” he suggested.
A lawyer, meanwhile, filed a legal complaint against the singer, accusing her of defaming Egypt.
So far, there has been no comment from Sherine. But her husband, singer Hossam Habib, defended Sherine, saying that her comments were taken out of their context and misinterpreted.
Habib said there were three mirrors on the stage as part of Sherine’s show at the concert and a disturbing acoustic problem occurred in the place. “For sure, this problem is because of the mirrors, which reflect the sound,” he quoted Sherine as telling the audience. “I’ve got brains. I’m too precious for Egypt,” she added lightly, according to Habib. “This is a common phrase,” Habib told private news portal Al Youm Al Saba.
“How can she insult Egypt while she chose to hold her New Year’s Eve concert in Cairo, rejecting offers to perform in Istanbul and Lebanon where fees are far higher?” he asked. “We should stop casting doubts about people’s patriotism in this way.”
Last year, Sherine was taken to court on charges of defaming the country after she had suggested at a concert that drinking from the River Nile could make people. In reaction, state radio and television stations stopped broadcasting her songs.
At the time, the Musicians’ Syndicate banned Sherine from performing at concerts for two months.
In February, a misdemeanor court sentenced the singer to six months in prison and ordered her to pay 5,000 Egyptian pounds (Dh 1,041) in bail in order to stay out of prison pending an appeal against the verdict.
The sentence was revoked on appeal.