Thursday, April 26, 2012

Egyptian court drops cases against popular actor Adel Imam and other artists

Update: Egyptian comedy actor Adel Imam's three-month jail sentence for defaming Islam was dropped by a Cairo court on Thursday. Similar charges against filmmakers Nader Galal, Mohamed Fadel and Sherif Arafa and writers Lenin El-Ramly and Wahid Hamed were also dropped.

In Egypt the growing influence of political Islam threatens to lead to a clash of civilizations on a national level. Proof of this was delivered on Tuesday when  an Egyptian court sentenced the actor Adel Imam  to three months in prison and a fine of LE 1000 for defaming Islam in his films Morgan Ahmed Morgan, El-Erhaby ('The Terrorist') and El-Erhab Wel-Kabab ('Terrorism and Kebab').
Adel Imam
Adel Imam (72) is Egypt's best known comic actor who has made a long list of films, most of which were huge (cash) successes. At the same time Imam became controversial after he distanced himself last year from the uprising against president Mubarak. At the time he said that the protesters at Tahrir Square did not represent true Egyptians. Also he praised Mubarak for the wisdom with which he had ruled Egypte during 30 years. However, Imam's political stance did not keep colleagues and other members of Egypt's cultural elite to be alarmed by the verdict. This the more because the directors Sherif Arafa, Nader Galal and Mohamed Fadel and the writers Wahid Hamed and Lenin El-Ramly also face charges of "defaming" Islam. They will stand trial on 26 May. The Front for Creativity has organised a protest on 26 May outside the Agouza Court on Cairo's Sudan Street, when their trial begins.
Writer Alaa El-Aswany, whose book 'The Yacoubian Building' was filmed with Imam in one of  the leading roles, wrote on Twitter that he did not agree with Adel Imam politically, but nevertheless appreciated his art. Aswany condemned the sentence, saying Egypt was returning to the dark ages.
Independent filmmaker Ahmad Abdallah described the sentence was an "act of terrorism against artists" and a "slap in the face for serious cinema." And actor Amr Waked said that "the best you could do to an artist you don’t approve of is not watch him, but you don’t have the right to prevent him from working or jailing him."
Ashraf Abdel Ghaffour, the head of the Egyptian Actors Syndicate, said that the syndicate’s lawyers would appeal the conviction.
The case against Imam was filed in February by Asran Mansour, who accused the actor of offending Islam and its symbols, including the Hijab – head scarf  – and beards in his films.

No comments: