'Egypt's Al Pacino' sentenced to three months in jail for insulting Islam on screen
Thursday 26 April 2012
Leading lights from across the Egyptian film industry are threatening to go on strike after one of the country's most famous actors was handed a jail sentence for insulting Islam in a number of his highest-profile films roles.
Adel Imam, a popular comedian who has starred in a string of hits since the 1960s, was last night facing the prospect of three months behind bars after being found guilty in a private prosecution brought against him by an ultra-conservative Muslim lawyer.
The case has renewed fears about the pervasiveness of radical Islam and the influence of hard-line MPs who now control a quarter of the Egyptian parliament. "It's very difficult for the Egyptian film industry when the courts are supporting these prosecutions," Ahmed el-Gazer, a film critic, said.
Hundreds of directors, actors and screenwriters were due to mount a protest outside a Cairo court today in support of Mr Imam, who was found guilty in a previous case but granted a retrial. The actor still has an opportunity to launch an appeal, but one leading producer and studio owner told The Independent that thousands of workers from across the industry are planning to go on strike if the verdict is not overturned. "I see it as the Islamists trying to stab us in the back," Mohamed al-Adl said. "I think they went for the biggest Egyptian actor so that other artists will get scared."
The prosecution of Imam, who in addition to his jail sentence was fined $170 (£105), hinged on a number of films in which he starred over the years. They included The Terrorist, which featured the actor as a wanted radical, and the 2007 film Morgan Ahmed Morgan, a movie that includes a scene poking fun at conservative Muslims.
Although most of the media attention has focused on Imam – whose fame in Egypt was likened by one director to that enjoyed by Al Pacino in the West – his trial coincided with that of five other high-profile industry figures, all of whom are due to be sentenced today. The prosecution has also thrown the spotlight on so-called "hisba" cases, a specific branch of Islamic law in which private individuals are entitled to initiate legal proceedings, often on religious grounds.
Actors and writers were targeted by conservative lawyers long before last year's uprising, but the Imam's stature has lent his case an added piquancy. Despite being a household name throughout the Arab world, Imam lost a little of his sheen last year after voicing support for Hosni Mubarak during the uprising. The toppled autocrat was known to be a friend of Imam's.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account