An Egyptian actress has come under fire this week for urging violence against people flouting Egypt’s coronavirus lockdown, including essential workers, such as doctors and nurses.
On her private Facebook account, actress and former Miss Egypt Dalia Al-Behery slammed Egyptians who venture outdoors and called on authorities to implement a stricter lockdown.
“I am imprisoned at home, my family and I are entering our 36th day,” she said. “We are respectable people and God forbid one of us gets sick and can’t find a hospital bed because some irresponsible animal went wandering or didn’t care about our current state.”
“Whoever will talk to me about daily work, I will answer with the slipper,” she added. “Most charities […] started begging before Ramadan even began, so no one can tell me they will not eat, and many will avoid working all year anyway.”
A screenshot of the actress’ private post was leaked, prompting backlash from Egyptian social media users and local news outlets.
Many outraged posts included an Arabic hashtag that translates to “Dalia Al-Behery you are an extra”, likening her to a background actor in comparison to workers such as medical staff, food vendors and garbage collectors who provide vital services to the country.
Some pointed out social media posts by fellow actor Mohammed Ramadan, who this week appeared in celebratory group photos and videos with crew members from his latest television series after wrapping up filming.
“Why doesn’t [Al-Behery] criticise her artist colleagues who are filming Ramadan television series and their lack of commitment to staying home?” said a Twitter user.
“If only Dalia could tell us what she thinks of Mohammed Ramadan’s display,” remarked an Egyptian television host during a segment. “Surely Mohamed Ramadan is not an essential worker.”
On Wednesday, Al-Behery posted an Instagram video addressing the backlash, saying her post was taken out of context and aimed at shoppers in malls and markets, not essential workers.
Egypt’s working poor are among the country’s most vulnerable populations in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since authorities implemented last month’s curfew to contain the spread of the virus, Egypt’s low-income population saw their meagre wages disappear.
One third of Egypt’s population of more than 100 million lives in poverty, surviving on about $1.50 or less a day.
Egypt reported 2,505 Covid-19 cases as of Thursday, including 183 deaths, although experts believe the real figure is much higher.