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03 Mar 2012 18:47
An Egyptian court has rejected the second of two lawsuits brought forth by ultraconservative Islamists accusing a Christian tycoon of insulting Islam by posting an online cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a beard and Minnie in a face veil.
Judge Sherif Kamel ruled Saturday that the plaintiffs were not eligible to file the religious defamation lawsuit and sent the case back to the state prosecutor’s office for further investigation.
Telecom and media mogul Naguib Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, had angered Muslim hardliners in June by relaying the cartoon on his Twitter account. It parodied the growing influence of Islamists in Egypt following the ousting of long-time President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last year.
On Tuesday an Egyptian court threw out the first lawsuit brought against Sawiris by a group of lawyers who accused him of showing contempt for religion, saying the plaintiffs had no legal standing in the case.
The court, headed by Judge Ehab Yousry, dismissed the case against Sawiris on the ground that it had been filed by individuals who “lack legal standing”.
Sawiris’s company suffered a boycott by some customers when news of the tweeted cartoon spread, but Sawiris said the impact had eased by October.
Sawiris is a vocal critic of Islamist parties which have emerged in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February last year.
He is a co-founder of Al-Masryeen Al-Ahrar (Free Egyptians), a liberal party advocating the separation of state and religion.
Earlier this month, the Arab world’s most famous comic actor, Egyptian Adel Imam, received a three-month jail sentence for insulting Islam in films and plays.—AP and Reuters
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