Convicted Lebanese singer removed from Egyptian drama after outcry

Lebanese singer Fadel Chaker appears on a poster of the Egyptian soap opera “We Have Something Else to Say”, a poster released by the producing company.

Cairo: Egyptian producers of a television drama have said they removed Lebanese singer Fadel Shaker, convicted of involvement in a deadly attack in his homeland, from their work after an outcry.

The statement by Al Adl Group was made late Wednesday shortly after the company released a trailer of the serial “We Have Something Else to Say” starring celebrated actress Yousra with a theme song by Shaker.

Last September, a Lebanese military court sentenced Shaker to 15 years in prison in absentia after convicting him in connection with a 2013 attack on the Lebanese army that left 18 soldiers dead in the southern city of Sidon.

The whereabouts of Shaker, 49, are still unknown.

The producers said they had contracted Shaker for the theme song through his son.

Over recent weeks, several Lebanese people have expressed anger online at allowing Shaker to participate in the Egyptian show, which is scheduled to be aired in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that starts next week.

Some Egyptians also criticised Al Adl Group for contracting Shaker.

The show-makers said they had picked Shaker for “purely artistic considerations”.

“It had not occurred to us that his problem still exists,” the producers said in a press statement.

“When we learnt that his problem has not been solved and that there are questions over his legal situation, we have decided, out of our respect to fraternity feelings in Lebanon, to do without the voice of Fadel Shaker that will no longer be present in the trailer of the serial,” the statement added.

In reaction, Shaker was quoted as saying he was surprised at the move.

Egyptian TV anchor Wael Al Ebrashi said he had called the singer, who denied charges against him.

“He criticized what he termed as the producing company’s bowing to critics,” Al Ebrashi said on a talk show he hosted late Wednesday on Egyptian Dream TV.

Shaker started his career in mid-1990s. He was catapulted to fame in t1999 when he released his album “The Seller of Hearts” that earned him the nickname “King of Romance”

In 2012 he quit his music career on religious grounds and became a follower of Lebanon’s radical cleric Ahmad Al Asir. He appeared on a local TV station sporting a beard typical of ultra-conservative Salafists. He was also seen in pictures with Islamist militants.

Earlier this year, Shaker announced his comeback to the music arena. This week, he released a song titled “Why the Wound” by Egyptian music composer Walid Saad.

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