Egypt movie star acquitted of insulting Islam

Egypt movie star acquitted of insulting Islam

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s Adel Imam, the Arab world’s most famous comic actor, had a conviction and three-month prison sentence for insulting Islam in his films and plays overturned on appeal, a state newspaper reported on Thursday.

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. His more serious films dealt with the rise of Islamic militancy.

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.

A misdemeanor court overruled the verdict handed down in February against Imam, citing the “absence of a crime”, state newspaper Al-Ahram reported on its website. It added that the actor had to pay attorney fees and other legal costs.

His lawyer and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the court earlier in the day to support Imam. “We want freedom of creativity” and “No to prosecuting creative artists,” chanted the crowd, which included directors, producers and actors.

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