lawsuit filed against Egyptian comic actor Adel Imam for insulting Islam
was rejected by a court on Thursday, but he could still face a jail
sentence for a conviction in a similar case, his lawyers said.
Earlier, the state-run newspaper al-Ahram incorrectly reported that the three-month sentence had been overturned on appeal.
lawyers, Nabil Moawad and Safwat Hussein, told Reuters he remained a
free man pending the outcome of an appeal against that conviction, the
result of a case filed by the same plaintiff.
two lawsuits against Imam, whose presence in any movie or theatre cast
virtually guarantees a box-office hit, were brought by Asran Mansour, a
lawyer with ties to Islamist groups.
accused the actor of offending Islam and its symbols, including beards
and the galabiya, a loose-fitting garment often worn by hardline
Imam, 71, has poked fun
at officials in his comedies and politicians of all colors during a
40-year career, although he was publicly criticized by many Egyptians
for failing to back protests against former President Hosni Mubarak.
Some films deal with the rise of Islamic militancy.
The jail sentence against Imam was issued a few weeks after Islamists swept most seats in a parliamentary vote.
liberals, leftists and others are worried that Islamists who have
emerged as the dominant political force in post-Mubarak Egypt will
stifle social and cultural freedoms.
"ART IS NOT HERESY"
of demonstrators gathered in front of the court on Thursday to support
"We want freedom of creativity," and "No to prosecuting creative
artists," chanted the crowd, which included directors, producers and
Some carried banners saying "Art is not heresy."
is an unjust case against Imam and a stifling of freedom of
expression," actress Jihan Fadel said. "If Imam's appeal is not
accepted, this will pave the way for more obstacles in the path of all
creative people in Egypt."
some passers-by shouted "Jail Imam" and "Imam has always been the enemy
of Islam." Arguments broke out between the actor's supporters and
Among films and plays
targeted by the lawyer were the movie "Morgan Ahmed Morgan" and the play
"Al-Zaeem" ("The Leader"), the report said.
cases against directors, actors, artists and intellectuals accused of
failing to respect religious authority are relatively common in Egypt.
Morgan, one of Imam's supporters, said outside the court: "The
revolution was fought for freedom of expression and to see a case like
this is a disgrace."
(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by Andrew Roche)