The Egyptian film star and the Arab world’s most famous comedian, Adel Imam, received a three-month jail term with hard labor for his portrayal of Muslim characters on stage and screen, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
Al-Ahram online reported that Imam has been given the sentence in addition to a fine of approximately $166 for “defaming Islam” in some of the roles he has played.
Imam, who is considered to be one of the Arab world’s biggest film stars, with 40 years of box office hits in and plays under his belt, was sentenced in absentia.
“I will appeal the ruling,” Imam said.
“Some people seeking fame filed a suit against me over works I have done which they consider insulting to Islam, and this is of course not true,” he said, according to AFP.
“All the works in which I have starred went through the censors. Had they been found to be defamatory, the censors would have banned them.”
The 71-year-old celebrity said that among the works criticized are the 1994 production “al-Irhabi” (The Terrorist), in which he portrays an Islamic fundamentalist and the play “al-Zaeem” (The Leader), a comedy in which Imam pokes fun at the region's autocratic leaders.
Egyptian telecommunications and construction tycoon Naguib Sawiris, a founder of the liberal Free Egyptians political party, is facing similar charges of defaming Islam after he posted pictures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed in Muslim attire on Twitter.