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August 11, 2016 3:20 pm

Fans Pressure Egyptian Judoka Not to ‘Shame Islam’ by Contending Against Israeli at Rio Olympics

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Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby. Photo: Wikipedia.

Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby. Photo: Wikipedia.

An Egyptian judoka is being pressured on social media not to show up for his scheduled Friday-afternoon fight against an Israeli contender at the Olympics in Rio, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Thursday.

According to the report, in spite of repeated assertions from the chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee that Islam El Shehaby will appear on the mat for his slated match against Israeli judoka Or Sasson – going as far as to warn the athlete that, if he fails to do so, his Egyptian citizenship will be revoked – calls from fans on Facebook and Twitter for him to shun the fight have been intensifying.

“You will shame Islam,” wrote one angry follower. “If you lose, you will shame an entire nation and yourself. We don’t want to think what will happen if you lost to an Israeli. Victory will give you nothing. How can you cooperate with a murderous nation?”

El Shehaby, who is known for his extreme anti-Israel views, told Egyptian media outlets that he would make his decision closer to the fight. “The situation is very sensitive,” he said. “And I don’t want to discuss it.”

The 2010 World Judo Championship bronze medalist in the over-100-kilo category is supposed to fight Sasson, winner of two silver medals — one in 2015 and a second in 2016 — in the European championships.

According to nrg, Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev called on Egypt to “respect the spirit of the Olympics and act accordingly.” She also called on the International Olympic Committee to prevent the games from being “tainted by politics.”

As The Algemeiner reported earlier this month, diplomatic ties between Egypt and Israel have been strengthening in the three years since the military coup that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi.

On a visit to Jerusalem in July, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was not only photographed next to a bust of state of Israel visionary Theodor Herzl, but watched the European soccer championships on TV with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The controversy surrounding El Shehaby is not the first incident of its kind at the Olympic Games in Brazil.

On August 5, the Lebanese delegation to the games refused to share a bus meant to take the athletes to the opening ceremony with the Israeli team. Subsequently, on Aug. 7, Saudi Arabian judoka Joud Fahmy forfeited her first-round match against Christianne Legentil from Mauritius, reportedly in order to avoid competing against Israeli contender Gili Cohen in the next round.

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