Egyptian film star sentenced for insulting Islam

CAIRO Thu Feb 2, 2012 9:12am EST

Actor Adel Imam attends the Awards Show and Closing Night Red Carpet and Screening of 'The First Grader' during the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Doha October 30, 2010. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

Actor Adel Imam attends the Awards Show and Closing Night Red Carpet and Screening of 'The First Grader' during the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Doha October 30, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Dabbous

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab world's most famous comic actor, Adel Imam, has received a three-month jail sentence for insulting Islam in films and plays, a court document showed on Thursday.

Imam, who has frequently poked fun at authorities and politicians of all colors during a 40-year career, has one month to appeal the sentence and will remain out of jail until the appeal process is concluded.

The sentence Wednesday evening came weeks after Islamists swept most seats in a parliamentary election. The case was brought by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups, and had languished in court for months, judicial sources said.

Mansour accused the actor of offending Islam and its symbols, including beards and the Jilbab, a loose-fitting garment worn by some Muslims, the Egyptian news portal Ahramonline reported.

Among films and plays targeted by the lawyer were the movie "Morgan Ahmed Morgan" and the play "Al-Zaeem" ("The Leader"), the report said.

Imam was also handed a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($170) in absentia, the court document showed. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Court cases against directors, actors, artists and intellectuals for failing to respect religious authority are common in Egypt. But the case against Imam is likely to draw attention due to his high profile and the timing of the verdict.

Egypt's most successful movie star, Imam has been a box-office sell-out for much of his career. His more serious films have dealt with the rise the Islamist militancy and taken aim at incompetent government officials.

"I think the lawyer who filed the case against Imam is taking advantage of the current circumstances with Islamists gaining power in Egypt," said Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst and researcher at al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

He said the sentence had likely been handed down because Imam had failed to appear in court, and expected it to be overturned on appeal.

Egyptian telecom tycoon and political liberal Naguib Sawiris also faces trial on a charge of showing contempt for religion in a case brought by another Islamist lawyer. Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt's Coptic Christian community, was accused of showing contempt by tweeting a cartoon seen as insulting to Islam.

($1 = 6.0285 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)

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Comments (3)
freda4peace wrote:
The prophet was known for his tolerant and forgiving attitude. Islam is not meant to be so harsh. Quran clearly states that Muhammad was to be the Prophet of Mercy and many governments have forgotten that message. Islam from the Prophet’s perspective was a religion of encouragement toward a kinder, gentler heart and putting God before all else. Some have turned Islam into a book of penal codes and forgotten to even seek God’s guidance. Some “Islamic countries” have squeezed the best parts of Islam out of Islam itself. They call it Islam, but it is really only an excuse to keep people “in line”. Why not keep them “in line” in salat? Punish someone for cruelty to animals as the prophet did, but be always patient and ready to forgive mistakes and enemies as our beloved prophet was.

Feb 02, 2012 11:49am EST  --  Report as abuse
Dawud.Beale wrote:
sister freda, Islam encourages forgiveness and mercy, but that doesnt give people a free ride to insult and mock our religion. If people wish to do that in non muslim countries then that is up to them, but in Islamic countries we would be held accountable for allowing the mocking and ridicule of Islam and it spreads corruption. I for one would prefer to live in a coutnry where I dont have to hear this kind of nonsense and will be the first one to migrate to egypt if it becomes clear that the next government isnt yet another western puppet who will imprison me and kill me for praying the dawn prayer in the mosque or growing my beard long.

Im glad that this guy has been sentenced and I hope the Islamic world will have moderate governments that will focus on jobs and good living for their citzens but I dont want that to be a free pass to take a western approach to religion. David cameron clearly stated that england is a christian country. Well, egypt is a muslim country, Muslims in the UK shoudl not have the right to ridicule things considered sacred to the british people (like the poppies that were burned for exampel), and non muslims should not have the right to ridicule our faith in our countries and I hope egypt maintains this policy and hope the west buts out of things which arent their business. They say to us, if you dontl ike it here, leave. well the same applies to those in egypt who dont like the fact that they cnat mock islam. im glad to see the muslim governmenmts finally starting to do something for islam for a change

Feb 03, 2012 7:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
satyr9us wrote:
You don’t have the first clue what we consider sacred, Dawud.

Here’s a good start: whenever you’re expressing an opinion with the expectation that someone else will pay attention to it, indicate to them that you have put some proper thought into your remarks by CKECHING YUOR SLEPLING.

Feb 03, 2012 5:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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