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July 10, 2012 3:30 pm

Omar He Didn’t! Famous Arab Icon’s Conversion to Judaism Is Just A Rumor

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Omar Sharif in 2009. Photo: wiki commons.

Did he or didn’t he? On Monday the Arab news website Albawaba reported that the “Doctor Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia” actor Omar Sharif had converted to a kabbalistic sect of Judaism. Today a contradictory news report has emerged with Omar Sharif’s spokeswoman flatly denying that he has switched religions.

“I have been hearing these rumors for a while and I have no idea what their source is, but they are not true and he is not thinking of converting at all,” Inas Bakr told the Al-Arabiya news channel.

Originally born Michel Shalhoub to a Roman-Catholic family of Lebanese/Syrian descent in Egypt, Sharif  converted to Islam before marrying his first wife, Egyptian actress Faten Hamama. Equally proud of his nationality, the eighty-year-old legend has also vowed from ever abandoning his Egyptian citizenship.

“He has always sworn never to think of changing those two,” Bakr said.

While the actor himself may not be a member of the tribe, several of his descendents indeed are. Back in May, Sharif’s grandson Omar Sharif Jr. wrote an op-ed in The Advocate revealing his fear over returning to Egypt after revealing himself to be Jewish through his maternal roots.

Sharif’s previous Jewish ties include a relationship with Barbara Streisand, whom he met while he played Jewish gangster Nick Arnstein in 1968’s Fanny Brice biopic “Funny Girl,” as well as its 1975 sequel. He also performed in several film adaptations of Old Testament works, including two films in 2006  – “The Ten Commandments” and “One Night With The King”.

Additionally, Sharif played the title role of a Muslim shopkeeper who developed a relationship with a Jewish teenage boy in France, in 2003’s “Monsieur Ibrahim.”

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