What would have happened to Rami Malek if he was still in Egypt?

Monday 11 March 201911:47 am
The camera zooms in on his face as he kisses another man, and the audience rises outraged demanding that he be put on trial. When the police approach his room to catch him, suddenly a golden halo winks into existence over everyone's heads like the signal of the famous Batman in the sky of Gotham City.The Oscars statue has appeared! The policemen falter and the shouts of rage of the audience turn into encouraging cheers. The head officer goes to the man to tell him how honored he is that the man has Egyptian roots and how the authorities would like to salute him and wish him greater success in his artistic career. He is Rami Malek. This is a short, imaginary scene of his life between two destinies, one in Cairo and the other in Hollywood. "I am the son of Egyptian immigrants, I am of Egyptian roots."  At this moment many Egyptian’s feelings were of pride because of the words of the international actor Rami Malek taking pride in his Egyptian origins, as well as his pride in winning the best actor Oscar for his role in Bohemian Rhapsody. And on the other hand the loud applause is caused by trembling hands confused about whether the achievement should be hailed or not, because Rami has appeared in an homosexual scene which would be unacceptable in Egypt.

Rami Malek in Egypt

The most important question at that moment was about the fate of Rami Malek if he was an Egyptian citizen living in Egypt and does not have any international fame or a golden statue, and decided to act out the same scene. The answer is not difficult at all. A lawyer would file a case against him for spreading immorality and then the media would launch a campaign to defame Rami claiming that he is defiling Egyptian traditions and would conjecture how Qatar and Israel played a part in promoting this homosexual kiss. This would be followed by a series of trials that would end with him being imprisoned for a year or even three and being forbidden from acting ever again. This scenario is neither implausible nor exaggerated. While  Egyptians celebrated Amr Waked's kissing Scarlett Johansson in the film “Lucy,” they fiercely attacked the other Egyptian actor Khalid Abul Naga after he tweeted  his support for gay people living their lives free of interference from anyone. The media went on the attack, as did many of his followers and several lawyers filed reports against him accusing him of homosexuality and helping to spread immorality. Abul Naga didn’t kiss anyone but merely decorated his avatar with a rainbow flag which indicates support to the gay community, which leads one to wonder what would have happened to him had he acted out the scene that Rami Malek won the Oscar for?   Things could get increasingly complicated in the event that Rami, Khaled or Amr were an unknown Egyptian citizen, and we wouldn’t even have to imagine the scenario not so long ago when some youth raised rainbow flags during the concert of the band Mashrou Leila in Egypt and were ferociously attacked by the media and television. These young people were arrested and put on trial before some fled outside Egypt in order to remain free and secure away from the mob that was so affronted by a colored flag.

Rami Malek abroad

The situation is very different in dealing with the character that Rami depicted because there is an Oscar involved. The media published the words of Rami Malek about his Egyptian origins with pride. There were even comparisons drawn between Rami and the famous Egyptian football player Mohammed Salah, who is known affectionately as “the pride of the Arabs,” with some saying that Rami deserves this title as well at least as an artist. In this way, Egypt and its people have a hidden role in the Oscar win, the same way that they have a role in the achievements of Salah, although their situations are completely different, as Rami was born and lived in America while Salah grew up in Egypt then left after starting his career in Egyptian football. But Egyptians are all too ready to link Rami Malek’s win with the Egyptian genes in his body, so as not spoil the joy of winning an Oscar. It is expected that Rami Malek, the international icon, will be used as an ambassador of Egypt directly or indirectly, through his invitation to represent Egypt in international art events, for example, or to exploit his achievement in the promotion of Egyptian art and tourism in Egypt, the Egypt that gave birth to this Oscar-winning marvel through his Cairene mother and Upper Egyptian father.

Homosexuality with an Oscar and without an Oscar

Given the extreme contrast in dealing with homosexuals who have Oscars and those without it, it was a surprise that Rami was lauded by the Egyptian public and government and that Egyptians didn’t rise up as one to stone him with his own Oscar before flinging him into jail for that outrageous scene. Rather we hope that Rami Malek will open the door to talk about gay acceptance not only in art but also in society in general, and perhaps there will be mention of many successful people globally who not only acted in a gay scene but also lived out normal lives with their sexual orientation.   This may drive some to think of other reasons to accept homosexuals and integrate them into society by looking for winners of major prizes like the Nobel. Otherwise Egyptians are dealing with Rami Malek as an exception or a necessary evil by ignoring the gay scene and focusing on Rami taking the Oscar and his mention of his Egyptian roots, forgetting this and continuing to hunt homosexuals in Egypt. Happy Oscars season to everyone!
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