Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby arrested over alleged drug possession

Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby arrested over alleged drug possession
Award-winning actress Egyptian Menna Shalaby, 40, was detained at Cairo International Airport following an inspection of her luggage, in which the customs officers found 12 packs of colourful candy reportedly containing marijuana.
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
27 November, 2022
In 2021, Menna Shalaby was the first Arab actor nominated for the International Emmy Award [Getty]

Award-winning Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby has been grabbing news headlines since Friday after she was arrested for possession of drugs in Cairo.

Shalaby, 40, was detained at the airport following an inspection of her luggage, during which 12 packs of colourful candy reportedly containing marijuana were found. She had flown in from New York.

Shalaby denied knowledge of the drugs, only confirming ownership of a small pack of makeup found with her.

She was released on the same day and ordered to pay 50,000 Egyptian pounds in bail ( ∼$US 2000), pending further investigations.

Local news outlet Cairo 24 cited judicial sources as saying that "most drug abuse cases do not require the alleged perpetrator be detained unless manslaughter or a car accident are involved."

Egyptian law names 45 substances considered to be prohibited narcotics, including raw opium, morphine, cocaine, and cannabis extracts.

Shalaby did not undertake a drugs test.

"She was coming from a foreign state allowing the use of narcotics. So in this case, finding drugs in her system, for example, can’t be legally taken against her," lawyer Mohamed Mahmoud told The New Arab.

"I assume this case won’t reach the judiciary as there are so many loopholes involved, especially since she claimed the search of her luggage was not carried out in her presence," he added.

According to US-based Egyptian psychiatrist Dr Adel Marei, traces of marijuana remain in the body for up to 60 days.

"The candies and similar products allegedly found with her are commonly and legally sold in the market in New York without prescription. But at the end of the day, any substance causing gratification is usually addictive," Marei told The New Arab.

Mixed reactions

After the news about Shalaby’s arrest broke, social media users were divided, with some satirising the situation.

A screenshot of Shalaby’s passport showing her personal data was widely circulated on social media. Another photo purportedly showed the suspected narcotics in small, colourful cases.

The New Arab could not independently verify the authenticity of the pictures.

A statement released by the Actors’ Syndicate on the same day criticised that Shalaby had been prejudged, considering this "a breach of all the rights guaranteed by law to any person standing before the judiciary."

Shalaby is best known for playing “Nawara,” the protagonist of the award-winning film of the same name, depicting a poor housekeeper working for a former official serving during the reign of the ousted long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Last year, Shalaby was the only Arab actor nominated for the Emmy International Award for her role in the limited thriller series “Fi Kol Osbou Youm Gomaa” (There is a Friday in every week) produced by the Saudi MBC platform Shahid.