An Egyptian court sentenced pop star Sherine to six months in prison on Tuesday for suggesting drinking from the Nile River leads to illness, although she will remain free pending an appeal. Sherine Abdel Wahab, known simply as Sherine, had apologized after being caught on tape joking with concert goers that Nile water could give them parasites.
The Cairo misdemeanor court convicted her of having spread “false news.” Judicial officials said she would remain free on bail pending an appeal. Sherine is one of the region’s best known singers. She is also an actor and hosted the Arabic version of singing contest The Voice. In the video recording of the concert, Sherine is asked by a fan to sing her tune “Have You Ever Drunk From the Nile.”
She responds that drinking from the river could cause “bilharzia,” a name for the parasitic disease schistosomiasis which was once widespread in Egypt. “Drink Evian instead,” she joked. The population of the vast country is mostly centered on the banks of the Nile, which flows from the south to the Mediterranean Sea. The remark set social media ablaze, with some users calling it an insult to Egyptian national pride. Others said the real culprits are those who pollute the river.
She later apologized in a Facebook posting. “I don’t recall saying that, because of course I don’t mean it, and it doesn’t reflect my personal feelings towards my nation… I’m sorry,” she said. “My beloved Egypt and its children: I apologize from all my heart for any pain I may have caused you,” she wrote. “It was a bad joke that I would never use if I go back in time.” The charismatic singer topped the charts in the region before announcing her retirement in 2016, but has since gone back on her decision. She was also a judge on the Arabic version of the popular talent show The Voice.