Arab world raging following reports that Mohsen Sharif praised Israeli prime minister during performance in Eilat. While Facebook groups urge government to revoke his citizenship, singer says has 'no idea who Netanyahu is'
Did Tunisian singer Mohsen Sharif praise none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? A clip posted on the Web in recent days shows Sharif trying to encourage his audience during one of his concerts by shouting, "Long live (Tunisian President) Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, long live Bibi Netanyahu! Long live Bibi!"
According to Tunisian newspaper al-Sabah, Sharif made the remark while performing in front of a Jewish audience during a visit to the Israeli resort town of Eilat. The newspaper reported that the singer called on the audience to visit the city of Djerba, which has a small Jewish community, for a celebration held in the city during the month of May.
It is unclear whether Sharif actually visited Eilat and how he arrived there, but according to Arab reports, the scandalous performance did take place.
Shortly after the reports came out, media and culture figures called on the Tunisian government to revoke Sharif's citizenship or at least boycott his performances. According to the singer's rivals, he is involved in "artistic normalization with Israel."
Thousands join anti-Sharif group
"This is an unusual phenomenon which must be condemned and judged," said Ahmed al-Kahlwai, head of the Tunisian committee supporting the resistance in Iraq and Palestine.
"We, the Tunisian people, are in favor of Palestine. We sing for the resistance in Palestine, Iraq and other Arab countries, against the Zionists and the Americans. He must be put on trial," Kahlawi told an al-Jazeera broadcaster, who was horrified by the fact that the Tunisian president's name was mentioned in the same sentence as "the leader of the enemy state."
But that wasn't the only arena where Sharif was slammed this week. Thousands of members have already joined various Facebook groups calling for his boycott, and as the clip is being posted across the Web, the group's popularity is growing stronger.
In one of the groups he was called "the traitorous agent" and its members urged the government to revoke his citizenship and prevent him from performing in Islamic events.
Thousands joined a group named, "We hate Mohsen Sharif," and some even called for his execution. Supporters of another group suggested "apologizing to Palestine."
And what was Sharif's response to the outcry? The singer was quoted by Arab media outlets as saying that "the remarks must not be taken out of the context of the performance. I have no idea who Netanyahu is."
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