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Muammar Gaddafi lookalikes are well advised to stay cautious in public if the recent experiences of a doppelganger for Saddam Hussein are any guide.

Mohamed Bishr was walking to a cafe in the Egyptian city of Alexandria when a group of three armed men forced him into the back of a van. He was beaten by the brigands, who sought to force him to perform in a sex film because of his striking resemblance to the late Iraqi dictator. The gang wanted to sell the resulting sex videos as 'found footage'.

Bishr, a devout Muslim, refused.

This prompted the gang to abandon its plan by dumping Bishr out of the moving van, resulting in injuries that have left him hospitalised.

According to Bishr's son, his father had been offered 2 million Egyptian pounds (US$333,000 or 208,000 quid) to impersonate Saddam in a porno flick by a group who spoke Arabic with an Iraqi or Syrian dialect.

"His son said that after the meeting his father had received several telephone calls threatening him with kidnap if he didn't change his mind and shoot the Saddam sex tape," English language Arab news site Ahram Online reports.

"It is believed his kidnappers would have tried to pass off the video recording they made as genuine and sell it to international media."

Bishr senior has been beaten up in the past because of his resemblance to Saddam; the attacks that have forced him to move home four times.

Saddam used several doubles to make public appearances, partly because of assassination fears. "None are thought to have performed in adult films," Ahram Online adds. ®

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