An Egyptian couple with a popular YouTube channel is under investigation after the mother donned blackface to deliberately freak out their baby daughter for a video prank.
Egypt Independent reported that public prosecutors ordered Ahmed Hassan and his wife Zeinab—known for their YouTube channel AZ Family—to be held in custody after public backlash from social media users.
In the controversial video, Zeinab is seen applying black and brown face paint and donning a blond wig in preparation for her video stunt.
When Zeinab presents her transformed self to her daughter Aileen, the toddler appears confused and then upset.
Ahmed—who is presumably holding the camera—can be heard laughing along with the other people in the room as his baby girl is crying and turning away from her barely recognizable mother.
When Zeinab finally picks Aileen up in her arms, she cries even more and continues to turn away from her mother’s face.
You can watch the video here.
The couple’s YouTube channel has over 6 million subscribers, and the September 5 video was viewed over 1.5 million times, according to the Daily Dot.
Zeinab claimed she was only “playing” with her daughter and that the video was not intended just for profit.
She added that previous videos featuring her and her husband garner significantly more views than the ones featuring Aileen.
But infuriated viewers believed the couple was exploiting the child’s welfare for fame.
In one of the YouTube comments, an outraged user wrote:
“Are you kidding me crazy? Parents you don’t have Hearts.”
The Egypt Independent said the backlash led to a complaint being filed with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), which then submitted a request to Public Prosecution to open an investigation.
The couple was detained for four days after complaints of traumatizing their child.
The General Director of the Child Helpline with NCCM, Sabri Osman, said in a phone interview with Egypt’s Sab7 al-Kheir Ya Masr (Good Morning Egypt) that the incident demonstrates the parents’ “reckless behavior” and that their actions constitute as “child abuse.”
The NCCM’s Secretary-General, Sahar al-Sonbaty, issued a statement saying that these kinds of acts posted to social media are “unjustifiable” and is a violation of article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution.
al-Sonbaty added that the video also violates article 96 of the Egyptian Child Law—which protects children from threatening situations and ensures they have a safe and healthy upbringing.
The couple is facing possible life in prison along with a fine of LE 500,000 which is the USD equivalent of $31,780.33.