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Egyptian comedians face charges after giving police condom balloons

Ahmed Malek and Shady Hussein could face six months in prison on charges of 'insulting the police'
A pro-government Egyptian man kisses a policeman on Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on 25 January 2016 (AFP)

Two Egyptian men could face possible prison sentences after publishing a video of themselves handing out inflated condoms as balloons to the police in Cairo on the anniversary of the 25 January 2011 uprising.

Actor Ahmed Malek and Shady Hussein, who works for a satirical programme, filmed themselves blowing up condoms and writing the sarcastic message of “From the youth of Egypt to the police” and “Police Day Jan. 25”.

The pair then went to a largely empty Tahrir Square - the site where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians protested against the government of former president Hosni Mubarak five years earlier – and handed the condoms to unsuspecting policemen, before posing with them for pictures.

They then copied supporters of current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who attended the officially approved demonstration around the square, by waving Egyptian flags, kissing the ground and yelling over and over “Long live Egypt!”

The two-minute long video was published on Facebook and has received more than 1.7 million views and over 20,000 shares.

However, the reaction to the satirical work could lead to serious repercussions for the two men.

Complaints have been lodged against them for insulting the police. If convicted, Malek and Hussein could face six months in jail and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,250).

Ashraf Zaky, the head of the Actors’ Union, told Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm that Malek has been suspended from the union over his involvement in the video. However, different reports said that Malek was not yet dismissed and instead was referred to a disciplinary committee by the union.

On Tuesday, Malek apologised on his Facebook account.

“I sincerely apologise to anyone insulted by the video, especially the police,” he wrote.

“I am 20 years-old, and at that age sometimes impetuous ideas outrun rational thinking,” he continued. “Unfortunately, mistakes now are recorded and filmed, giving them a longer age and a bigger size than it really is.

"Maybe this whole situation arose from the frustration associated with the lack of freedom of speech that my generation is enduring these days," Malek added. "Still, that does not give me the right to transgress or express my views in a way that encroaches on the rights of others."

The company that produces the satirical show Hussein reports for said it totally opposes what he did.

But unlike his colleague Malek, Hussein remains defiant.

“People have not forgotten and will not forget what you did,” he wrote on his Facebook, addressing the police.

He went on to say that the video was nothing compared to the police brutality he witnessed firsthand during the 2011 uprising.

“I feel like my days outside prison are numbered,” he added. 

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