Egyptian football star Mohamed Salah made it out to his hometown just in time for Eid el-Fitr, which was celebrated on Wednesday in Egypt. However, his Eid plans did not go, well, as planned.
Fans and paparazzi gathered outside his family home located north of Cairo, making it difficult for the devout Muslim to perform Eid prayer at a local mosque. The Liverpool striker took to social media to call out "some journalists and some people" for lacking professionalism and disrespecting his privacy.
In a tweet shared to his official Twitter account early Wednesday morning, Salah wrote in Arabic:
"The behavior of some journalists and some people makes it difficult for one to leave the house to perform Eid prayer. This has nothing to do with love. This is called disrespect of privacy and lack of professionalism."
This comes as people swarmed around his home in the village of Nagrig, arriving in the early hours of Wednesday to take photos with the footballer or ask for personal assistance, according to Gulf News.
Salah has previously positively engaged with fans outside his home, but this time around, the crowd prevented him from leaving the house to perform Eid prayer, which is conducted at mosques early in the morning in commemoration of the Islamic holiday. While security forces intervened to help Salah leave the house, he did not make it out in time for prayer.
Salah's comments were met with mixed reactions online, with some users expressing disappointment in his attitude and saying such incidents are common among all celebrities. Meanwhile, others validated his concerns and asked fans to respect his privacy.
Salah arrived in Egypt on Tuesday after helping his team win the European Champions League title on June 1. The final match saw Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0, with Salah scoring a penalty shot only two minutes into the match.
Known as a practicing Muslim, Salah was rumored to have been fasting during the final match. While the footballer did not publicly address the matter, he was seen drinking water during the game around the same time as iftar in Madrid, the city where the game was held.
Prior to the match, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said he has "no problem with the fast of my players. I respect their religion, they were always wonderful and they offered the best whether they were fasting or not."
Mo Salah vs. Fame
When it comes to dealing with the pressure of living in the public eye, Salah tries to lead a "normal" life and enjoys spending time with his daughter. "Most of the time, I stay at home. I don't like to go out," he told Time Magazine earlier this year.
Writing for the magazine about the Egyptian star, English comedian and television host John Oliver wrote:
"Mo Salah is a better human being than he is a football player. And he's one of the best football players in the world [...] You'd be hard-pressed to find a professional athlete in any sport less affected by their success or status than Mo."
The fan-favorite footballer is not only famous for his sporting talents, but for his benevolence as well. He reportedly offers financial support for those in need, helps struggling couples with marriage fees, and donates to hospitals and orphanages in Egypt.
Islamophobia is dropping thanks to the footballer
Salah, who performs the Islamic sujood (act of prostration) after scoring a goal, is among the most visibly Muslim players in England.
According to a new study by Stanford University, Salah's role in Liverpool extends beyond goals and titles. The research found that his presence has contributed to a decrease in Islamophobia in Merseyside county, with anti-Muslim hate crimes dropping by 18.9 percent since Salah signed for Liverpool in June 2017.
The study found that Salah's persona as a friendly figure in the team helped "humanize" the Muslim community and familiarize locals with the Islamic religion, thus reducing prejudiced attitudes and behaviors.