An Egyptian singer faces a lawsuit for 'insulting his country' after he posed with two Israeli celebrities on a rooftop in Dubai.
Mohamed Ramadan, 32, was pictured earlier this month with his arm around Omer Adam, 27, in Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates which signed a normalisation deal with Israel in September.
The actor and rapper, who is a close friend of Morocco's King Mohamed VI and won the 2019 All Africa Music Awards prize, was also seen with footballer Dia Saba, 28.
Mohamed Ramadan (centre), 32, was pictured earlier this month with his arm around Omer Adam, (left) 27, in Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates which signed a normalisation deal with Israel in September
Journalist Hamad al-Mazroui, from United Arab Emirates, tweeted the photo captioned: 'The most famous artist in Egypt with the most famous artist in Israel. Dubai brings us together.'
Mr Al-Mazroui quickly deleted the post but an Arabic language Twitter account for the state of Israel quickly retweeted the photo with the caption: 'Art brings us together.'
The picture with the footballer Dia Saba also caused a stir online after it was widely shared with the hashtag 'Mohamed Ramadan is a Zionist' trending on Twitter.
The picture with the footballer Dia Saba (left) also caused a stir online after it was widely shared with the hashtag 'Mohamed Ramadan is a Zionist' trending on Twitter. Pictured right: Mohamed Ramadan
A lawyer has filed a case accusing Mr Ramadan of causing 'offence to the Egyptian people' with the pictures which have sparked charges on social media of 'betraying' the Palestinians, according to local media reports.
The case is to be heard on December 19.
The outcry over the photograph highlights anti-Israel sentiment among most Egyptians who view any direct interaction with Israelis as taboo.
Mr Ramadan (pictured receiving the African Fan's Favourite Award award during the 2019 All Africa Music Awards) is banned from acting and singing while the suspension lasts
TV presenter Ahmed Moussa, who is loyal to Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, slammed Ramadan's action as 'a full-fledged crime'.
He called for the Theatrical Professions Syndicate, a stage and film professionals' union, to take 'deterrence measures' to stop further interactions with Israelis.
Meanwhile many social media users also called on the union to suspend Mr Ramadan.
Head of the the Syndicate Ashraf Zaki said on Monday that the union had decided to suspend Ramadan pending an investigation.
Mr Ramadan (pictured performing at a concert in Egypt in 2019) insisted that he did not know that Omer Adam was Israeli. After the outcry, he posted a photo of the Palestinian flag and a video with what he said was a young Palestinian man
The probe will take place during the first week of December since the actor is currently in Dubai.
Mr Ramadan is banned from acting and singing while the suspension lasts.
The backlash comes as part of decades-long tensions between the two nations.
Egypt became the first Arab country to make peace with Israel in 1979 and the two governments work closely together on security issues.
However, many Egyptians are deeply opposed to Israel's policies toward the Palestinians and stand against what they call 'popular normalisation' with Israel.
Following his suspension, Mr Ramadan said in a Facebook post that he would have declined to be photographed if he had known Adam's nationality. Pictured: Mohamed Ramadan performs during the 2019 All Africa Music Awards
Mr Ramadan insisted that he did not know that Omer Adam was Israeli. After the outcry, he posted a photo of the Palestinian flag and a video with what he said was a young Palestinian man.
'I don't know nor do I ask about the nationality of everyone I take a photo with,' he said.
'I never ask about his colour, religion or nationality. All of us are human.'
Meanwhile many social media users also called on the union to suspend Mr Ramadan (pictured in 2019)
A journalists' union also decried Mr Ramadan's violation of a years-old decision by the Union of Artistic Syndicates that prevents members from normalising ties with Israel.
It urged its members to boycott the actor until the end of the ongoing investigation and warned of penalties against those who violate its decision.
There was no comment from the Egyptian government.
In 2016 the Egyptian parliament expelled politician Tawfiq Okasha from the chamber after his meeting with Haim Koren - then Israel's ambassador to Egypt.
In the 1990s, Ali Salem, a famed Egyptian satirical writer, was banned from the national writers' union following his visit to Israel.
Salem, who died in 2015, drove a car across the border after Israel and the Palestinians signed the 1993 Oslo peace agreements.