Egypt lives in a state of denial.
A famous Arab singer has been banned from performing in her native Egypt after advising a fan against drinking from the Nile River, leaders of the local musicians union said Wednesday.
A video clip of a recent concert shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab, a singer widely known by her first name, telling a fan: “You are better off drinking Evian,” a reference to a French brand of mineral water.
The remark set social media ablaze, with some users calling it an insult to Egyptian national pride. Others said the real culprits are those who pollute the river.
“It’s unjustified ridicule and mockery of our dear Egypt,” a union statement said.
Egypt’s government and media have relentlessly stoked nationalist sentiment since the military overthrew an elected Islamist president in 2013, portraying nearly all criticism as part of an international plot to undermine the country’s stability.
Sherine apologized for her comment in an emotional Facebook post.
“My beloved Egypt and its children: I apologize from all my heart for any pain I may have caused you,” she wrote. “It was a bad joke that I would never use if I go back in time.”
The Musicians Union said the concert was in Lebanon, but Sherine’s statement said she believed it was in the United Arab Emirates more than a year ago.