Egyptian court upholds comic actor’s prison sentence

25 April 2012

A court in Egypt has upheld the three-month prison sentence given to leading comic actor Adel Imam for insulting Islam in his films and plays, reported BBC News on 25 April 2012.

71-year-old actor Adel Imam was also fined 170 US dollars by the court in the capital, Cairo.

The case brought against Adel Imam by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups, accused the actor of frequently mocking the authorities and politicians in his films and plays, and offending Islam and its symbols.

Asran Mansour was reportedly offended by the film ‘Al-Irhabi’ (The Terrorist), in which Imam plays a radical Islamist; the play ‘Al-Zaeem’ (The Leader), a comedy satirising Middle Eastern autocrats; and the film ‘Morgan Ahmed Morgan’, which sees a rich businessman stand for parliament.

Fellow Egyptian film star Hend Sabri told the BBC World Service’s World Update programme:

“We are all scared. We are all scared about our freedom of speech and about the freedom of expressing ourselves and our ideas, and the freedom of our art.”


UPDATE: The case was dropped on 26 April 2012


According to an article by Ati Metwaly published in The Majalla on 26 April 2012 under the title ‘Islamists on Art – Egypt’s arts and culture scene hanging in the balance‘ the case was dropped on 26 April.

Ati Metwaly writes:

“When Asran Mansour, a Salafi lawyer, filed a case against Adel Imam, renowned Egyptian actor, for “defaming Islam” in his films, no one expected that the verdict issued on 24 April 2012, by Judge Mohamed Abdel Aty would sentence Imam to three-months hard labor and a fine. Though the case was dropped on 26 April afternoon, the news outraged Egypt’s artists and equally angered international supporters of freedom of expression and creativity.”

Salafis call for banning literature and film
“In Egypt, the Salafis’ statements not only oppose intellectual freedom and progress but also testify to lack of understanding of their country’s cultural wealth. In his speeches Abdel Moneim El-Shahat, the spokesman of Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya (The Salafist Call), has called for a ban on works by Naguib Mahfouz, a 1988 Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, for being an “atheist literature that calls for vice” with themes revolving around “prostitution and drugs.” El-Shahat also suggested covering statues of the Pharaohs in wax to put an end to the “idolatry.” No actual action was taken, and El-Shahat failed to win a seat in the parliamentary elections. His ideas are, however, an example of a mindset that artists and intellectuals fear the most. Meanwhile, other Salafis have called for banning all love scenes in past and present Egyptian movies, including scenes in cinematic gems with Abdel Halim Hafez and Nadia Lutfi, both indisputable icons of Egyptian culture.”
Ati Metwaly

BBC News – 25 April 2012:
Egyptian court upholds actor Adel Imam’s sentence

BBC News – 2 February 2012:
Adel Imam is sentenced to jail over Islam insult

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