Magician bitten by snake seeks antidote amid Turkey-Egypt crisis

An Iranian-Azeri magician who was bitten by a snake during a show rehearsal in southern Turkey has rekindled the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Cairo while searching for an antidote.

Aref Ghafouri, who previously became famous in Turkey with his illusion show in the Turkish version of America’s Got Talent, was rehearsing at a hotel in the southern province of Antalya on July 15 for his upcoming show when he was bitten by an Egyptian cobra.

Ghafouri, who was immediately taken to Antalya State Hospital with a swollen hand, was told the antidote could not be found in Turkey.

Turkish officials initially opted to contact France, instead of Egypt, which is the homeland of snake species, to import the antidote, but the correspondence between the two countries lingered on too long, risking the magician’s life.

Turkey’s Health Ministry said in a statement on July 16 that its first attempts failed after it was revealed that France’s Pasteur Institute stopped producing the antidote three years ago.

Ghafouri then decided to go to Egypt for treatment before it is too late, but he had to wait in an ambulance plane at Antalya Airport for hours due to a visa problem.

“The patient arranged a flight to go to Egypt in his own capacity. After learning that Egypt was acting slowly on his request for a visa, our Foreign Ministry continued its contacts with [Egyptian authorities], while it also kept checking to see whether other institutes in France have the antidote,” the statement added.

Egypt ultimately issued a visa for Ghafouri, who flew to Cairo where his treatment began on July 17. His health status is not life-threatening thanks to a quick intervention immediately after the snake bit him, Turkish media reported.

Turkey and Egypt had severed bilateral relations since a military takeover that toppled President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The Egyptian cobra, also known as naja haje, is one of the largest cobra species native to Africa. Its venom, which affects the nervous system, could cause death due to respiratory failure.


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