Monday 23 April 2018

'I was shocked by the racist comments online' - Amgad on reaction to his First Dates Ireland appearance

Agmad and Ailish on First Dates Ireland
Agmad and Ailish on First Dates Ireland
Agmad and Ailish on First Dates Ireland
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The First Dates Ireland experience was a tough one for Amgad Fadel, not so much the date itself, which went swimmingly, but the ensuing reaction online.

The Egyptian-born 41-year-old, who has lived in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where he currently lives, for 13 years, was subjected to racist comments on social media after the show aired on RTE2.

His date with Tipperary woman Ailish O'Keefe (31) went well as they bonded over The Backstreet Boys and even shared a 'cheeky kiss' or two.

However, it was Amgad's comments about sex and relationships which caused a bit of a stir with some viewers.

During his pre-date interview he said, "When you go out with a girl you want her to turn you on. Sex is a very important part of the relationship. 

"If the girl is not really good in bed, if you like someone you might give them time to practice and learn things.   If you do fine, if you don't, there's no point."

Amgad Fadel was shocked by racist comments about him on social media after his appearance on First Dates Ireland
Amgad Fadel was shocked by racist comments about him on social media after his appearance on First Dates Ireland

What viewers failed to notice, he says, was that he was joking about the 'practice' part.

"Did people not think of something called a sense of humour?" he tells Independent.ie.  "Seriously, did anyone think I was serious about giving a girl time to practice?  I was shocked with the comments I saw online.  Oh my God! 

Agmad and Ailish on First Dates Ireland
Agmad and Ailish on First Dates Ireland
Ailish on First Dates Ireland

"Yes, sex is very important to a relationship but the part after that – it was my sense of humour!  I was kidding.  Ailish sat with me for three hours so she understood my sense of humour."

Amgad describes his sense of humour as "different" and says that anyone who knows him would understand his take on things.  Speaking to Independent.ie after the date, Ailish said it was all in the name of banter.

Amgad Fadel
Amgad Fadel

"Maybe if he was an Irish fella he'd have said, 'Oh, I'll try to get the leg over or chance my arm' but I think Amgad was so honest, I was a bit like, 'oh'.  If he'd said to me, 'I'll give you time to practice' I'd have been like, 'What are you talking about?!'  But people say I was able for him.  I definitely think we were able for each other and we bounced off each other," she said.

Amgad, who admits he has not watched the show, and has never in fact seen an episode of First Dates, concedes he probably should have "smiled or laughed so people knew I was joking.  I was so serious!  I had a few drinks before to be honest too.  But I didn't think people would take it that way."

Whatever about his sense of humour, there was a more insidious side to the commentary about Amgad on social media. 

"I have lived in Ireland for 13 years and I didn't expect so much racism and discrimination and comments like that from people in Dublin," he says.  "It's unreal.  I was shocked.  I have friends here, and I didn't think I would hear those comments, those racist things here.  It was a big shock to be honest."

Amgad also takes issue with a radio presenter referring to him as a 'slimeball'.

"People are very judgemental.  Someone who doesn’t know who you are judges you like that?  That p***ed me off," he says.

"I am not a player who is out every weekend.  I have been in relationships.  I was in a relationship until a few months before I went on First Dates.  I was single for a few months and I am in a relationship now."

Amgad won't be drawn on the identity of his partner, but reveals she is from Northern Ireland.

"I am in love," he says, adding with a laugh, "First Dates did not help at all!

"I'm sure she wasn't impressed [with how he came across on First Dates], but she understands my sense of humour," he says, adding, "But it caused a fair bit of trouble!"

First Dates Ireland continues on RTÉ2 tonight at 9.30pm.

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