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All this love – and hate

Tue, June 05, 2018 13:11

By Ramadan A. Kader

Egyptians reacted with shock to the shoulder injury sustained by Liverpool superhero Mohamed Salah in the Champions League final. Many of the Egyptian King’s compatriots took to social media and poured their wrath on Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos whom they accused of deliberately targeting Salah by roughly tangling with him on the pitch.

A question on the lips of every Egyptian, including the no-soccer fans, is: Will Salah recover in due time to lead the Pharaohs at the World Cup in Russia?

Last October, Salah’s double sent Egypt to the World Cup after a hiatus of 28 years.

The other side of Salah’s shock injury in Kiev is that the incident showed how the 25- year-old professional is immensely popular in his homeland, not only for his soccer wizardry, but also for his modesty.

Therefore, his devotees in Egypt and beyond got outraged when an ultra-conservative Kuwaiti preacher claimed that Salah’s injury was punishment from God because he broke the Ramadan fast on the day of the final fixture that pitted Liverpool against Real Madrid on May 26. Salah is noted for charity in his Nile Delta village and other parts of the country.

In an apparent rebuttal of the preacher’s claim, the Al-Azhar-affiliated Fatwa Centre said in a statement: “Afflication can be a sign of God’s love for man and his closeness to God.”

One certain thing is that Salah is not just a brilliant footballer. For Egyptians, he is an inspiring role model and a unifying source of joy in hard times.