Inside the Middle East
August 4, 2012
Posted: 2048 GMT

Egyptians are known for their humor even in the hardest of times, but it maybe too early for Egyptians to laugh off a prank like this.

Egyptian singer and actor Mohammed Fouad repeatedly hit the host of the show and Lebanese actress, Cyrine Abdel-Nour threatened to sue the program, after realizing that the kidnap they thought they were victims of was nothing but a prank.

Comedian and actor Ramez Galal, known for his extreme practical jokes, staged what looked like a terrorist attack on a tourist bus carrying the celebrities.

This was part of a comedy show “Ramez the Desert Fox”, a special series for the holy month of Ramadan on Egyptian channel Al Hayat.

The prank starts off with a group of men in a car chasing the bus and, after overtaking it, shooting and banging on the windows. Galal played the role of the terrorist, dragging his victims from the bus and blindfolding them

A bit too extreme? Some would agree.  Especially for a country that is still recovering from instability, following last year’s revolution that toppled Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years in office.

The country has been battling ever since to pick up the economy and restore  security, a topic many thought too sensitive to be funny.

"The channel is aware that the program is a bit harsh, but it reflects the lack of security in Egypt and this is what makes it the most watched comedy show in Egypt," Mootaz Salah El-Din, a media spokesperson at Al Hayat TV channel, told CNN.  "Egyptians are known for their humor. They deal with hard times through practical jokes."

El-Din says that an ambulance is always available on set but so far they did not need to use it. The program has pranked 31 celebrities, he said.

"We give the celebrity the option to refuse showing the prank on TV, but none of the pranked celebrities refused," said El-Din.

Ramadan, the holy month of fasting in Islam, is the peak of airtime for all TV producers in the region. Shows like this one is what families gather around to watch.

Galal had a similar show last year’s Ramadan where celebrities were stuck in an elevator with a lion.

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Virginia Crawford   August 8th, 2012 11:17 pm ET

Extreme practical jokes? These are not extreme practical jokes but rather cruel and childish delight in other's fear or even terror. There is no sign of intelligence, creativity or grasp of real humour in these elaborate set ups.

Candid camera is decades old and often very hilarious: part of the hilarity is being able to identify with the victim.

Egyptians have a great sense of humour and I think they should all be insulted by this idiotic 'prank'.

In South Africa, we have a great problem with sexual violence and car hijacking, but if someone used rape, an armed robbery or a car hijacking as a joke, I am sure they would fired and socially ostracised.

This is a poor excuse for a tv program and it is time to move on to something worthy of Egyptians.

Merlin   August 13th, 2012 6:28 am ET

I watched the episode and thought of the US show 'Scare Tactics', which also enterains using the fear and terror of people in elaborate set ups.

As insensitive as the pranks appear to be, the following line from the article : "We give the celebrity the option to refuse showing the prank on TV, but none of the pranked celebrities refused," said El-Din." suggests that all involved have no actual hard feelings about their experience.

The prank may offend people whose lives have been affected by the real thing, but then humor usually does offend someone, somehow- as seen with the recent issues with stand up comedians.

ted   August 14th, 2012 5:41 am ET

one of these days someone old is going to have a heart attack on the show or maybe even die!
this is not funny at all!
in egypt people are dying because of political turmoil and this guy makes fun of torture, kidnapping and terrorism?
somebody needs to arrest this creep and put him in jail among terrorists who will show him what fun is!

Julie   August 18th, 2012 8:36 am ET

I saw this show and I didn't think it was all funny. I felt so bad for a singer who thought she was kidnapped. The singer I saw was shaking she was so afraid. This is entertainment??? There is enough problems, make something worthwhile. I agree – the one doing the show is no good and the show should be sued. What if someone had a heart attack???

JohnathanA   September 7th, 2012 4:03 pm ET

What if someone shot and killed the puported kidnappers?   September 13th, 2012 10:40 am ET

Interesting to hear the talked story but themes based on terrorism should not be displayed like this public which creates opportunity for terrorist to continue their job without any fear in the public.

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