Thursday, April 26, 2012

Egypt must overturn prison sentence for actor accused of ‘insulting Islam’

Amnesty International
25 April 2012

"A ruling against leading Egyptian actor Adel Imam, sentenced to three months in prison for “insulting Islam” in his films, sends out the message the country has not moved on from its Mubarak-era heritage of suppressing free speech, Amnesty International said.

The actor, who was also fined $170 (around £105), was first found guilty in absentia in February for his film roles in a case originally brought last year by a lawyer. His lawyers filed an objection against the verdict but a Cairo misdemeanours court rejected the objection on 24 April and upheld the original conviction. The lawyers say he may appeal Tuesday’s sentence.

The lawyer has filed a second complaint against Adel Imam and five other writers and producers on similar charges for their role in creating and broadcasting films and plays that Adel Imam acted in. The verdict in the second case is expected on Thursday.

This ruling sends a strong message that Egypt has still not moved on from the era of quashing free speech,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Adel Imam and the five other filmmakers should not be punished for peacefully expressing their opinion, even if those views do not sit comfortably with some critics.”......"

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