Corrected: Court rejects suit accusing Egyptian star of insulting Islam

Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:37pm EDT
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CAIRO (Reuters) - A 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.

Imam's 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.

The 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.

Mansour accused the actor of offending Islam and its symbols, including beards and the galabiya, a loose-fitting garment often worn by hardline Islamists.

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.

Egypt's 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"   Continued...

Actor Adel Imam attends the Opening Night Gala during the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Doha October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous