"Father of prostitute", the new internet sensation
The story of six students robbed at gunpoint at the University of Houston last week was no longer a gripping headline after one student, who claimed to have been a witness, told reporters live on TV that his name was “Abu Sharmouta.”
Little did the reporters know that their interviewee hadn't actually witnessed anything, nor did they know that the name he gave them wasn't real and that it actually translates to “father of a prostitute” in Arabic.
The bogus name of “Abu Sharmouta” helped Sayyed Jamal Hamideh, a broadcast journalism major, to quickly reach fame when he gave a false witness account of the incidence in an interview with KTRK ABC13 TV channel.
During the interview, the TV correspondent Crystal Kobza continued to refer to Hamideh as “Abu Sharmouta,” who in turn claimed he saw three black males come into the campus hall, and two of the perpetrators were wearing red hoodies.
On his Twitter account, the straight-faced jokester admitted he was never held at gunpoint and all the details he gave during the interview were invented.
Hamideh, speaking to Al Arabiya, explained the joke was just a way to blow off steam during the tense final season.
"I was told there was a robbery and I convinced my friends to come with me to where the news trucks were. I had just pulled an all-nighter and I wanted to get my friends' minds off of finals," Hamideh said.
"On the way [to the reporter] we were joking about different names and Abu Sharmoota came up," he said laughingly, "and we thought that was a funny name to try." "I guess it worked," he added, seemingly still surprised at the prank's success.
Hamideh said he 'winged' the whole explanation on his eye witness account on the robbery.The video, now popular all over the Middle East, has caused an inundation of comments on the Arab-American student's Twitter page, @Thatpancakekid. Hamideh, who has lived in the U.S. since he was six, said he has been getting the most feedback from his native country, Palestine.
"I had a lot of people [in Palestine] who said that the joke got their minds off of things, or it made their family laugh. So I was glad to hear that."
Tweeting his support back, Hamideh wrote on his Twitter, "Man all this love Im receiving from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, etc. is truly humbling.Wallahi Im just glad I could put a smile on some faces."
When asked if the student had anymore impromptu tricks in the pipelines after the success of the last one, Hamideh humbly states, "No, I think I'm going to hide out after this one."
KTRK ABC13 and Kobza haven't responded to attempts asking them comment regarding the incidents when contacted by Al Arabiya News.
Not the first time, not the last
This is not the first time, pranks or odd incidents go live on TV.
In 2006, BBC mistook an applicant for a 'data support cleanser' at the station for the business analyst meant to be interviewed on live TV.
Guy Goma, there for a job interview, was visibly uncomfortable during the live interview in which he sat through three questions before the mistake had been realized.
In Sept 2012, a young man who called himself Max Price, was interviewed on FOX news claiming he had once been U.S. President Barack Obama’s supporter. It was clear to viewers Price wasn't serious after teasing the interviewer about her past Miss USA title and evading serious questions with nonsensical answers.