Egyptian actor Ramez Galal's celebrity prank shows have been running every year for almost a decade during the holy month of Ramadan.
This year, the program is titled Ramez Fil Shallal and features a popular Arab star every episode. The guests are tricked into coming on the show as they're told they'll arrive in Bali, Indonesia to take part in filming a commercial or an entertainment program. Once on set, they are thrown off a bridge into a river, then pulled out only to be attacked by a fake human-sized gorilla.
Earlier this week, MBC aired an episode of the show featuring Egyptian film critic Tarek El Shennawy - who nearly drowned while filming the prank.
El Shennawy was thrown into the river like all other guests and was then pulled into a rescue raft. However, things didn't go as planned since the watercraft flipped as it made its way down the river, throwing the star back into the water.
The celeb was miraculously rescued as cameras continued to roll, and he seemed to be pretty shaken when the prank was all over.
El Shennawy agreed on allowing Galal to air his episode, which was cut short because parts of the accident had to be edited out. After it was broadcast, the incident sparked controversy across the Arab world, with thousands criticizing the prank show.
Some said that even though the high-budget program ensures celebrities are kept safe throughout its pranks, they're still at risk of injuries because accidents can clearly happen in unstable filming environments like rivers, deserts, and mountains.
Others called on MBC to stop producing the show, explaining that it doesn't only put people in harm's way for no reason other than monetary profit, but also offends its guests and bullies them all while trying to pass these things as funny (when they're really not).
Even though El Shennawy was in danger, Galal thought it was appropriate to include a voice-over in his episode making fun of the celeb and popping jokes about the entire incident.
Some people defended the show, saying this particular episode proved that its pranks aren't fake. One online user wrote:
"This is a response to all those who keep saying these pranks are fake. I was so scared for both of you [host and guest]. Thank God you're safe."
However, the majority of those online weren't having any of that and couldn't find anything funny about the incident.
Because what's funny about watching someone suffer like this?
"What happened with Tarek El Shennawy in this episode is ridiculous and disregards human life. It's time for these silly prank shows to be stopped."
"This incident must've been terrifying for his family, fans and loved ones"
"This is water, it's no joke, he could've drowned especially since he's old."
"If it were up to me, I'd order a trial against anyone who takes part in making these shows"
"You're risking people's lives and traumatizing them to profit out of this silliness."
"Ramez isn't going to stop until (God forbid) someone gets hurt"
"Not your money, nor your fame or ads will make any difference then. Are people's lives this invaluable?"
Ramez Galal's show has long sparked controversy
From bullying, verbal abuse, and body shaming, to injuries and sexual harassment claims, Galal's hidden camera and prank shows have been labelled as offensive by many.
Episodes of the program have long sparked controversy online especially for the extremism of the pranks they feature.
People have also always criticized the message Galal's commentary on guests' appearances send to the public, especially with impressionable kids glued to the TV to watch Ramadan shows.
Throughout the show's seasons, the host has mocked his guests as well as fat shamed and bullied them.
Let's hope next Ramadan the creators of such content reevaluate the need for it and come up with better and more creative ways to entertain people.