Egypt court clears tycoon of Islam insult


A Cairo court on Saturday dismissed a complaint against Christian tycoon Naguib Sawaris accused of insulting Islam with a cartoon of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in conservative Muslim garb, Egypt’s state media reported.

Hardline Islamist lawyer and MP Mamduh Ismail, who filed the complaint against the head of Orascom Telecom, told AFP he would appeal the decision.

Sawiris, also the founder of a liberal party, reposted on Twitter a cartoon of Mickey Mouse wearing a beard and turban and Minnie Mouse in a niqab, the face veil worn by ultra-conservative Muslim women.

The cartoon was a joking reference to what would happen should Islamists, who now control parliament, take over Egypt, but Sawiris was forced to apologize after calls for a boycott of his cell phone service provider Mobinil.

The official MENA news agency said the Cairo misdemeanor court “rejected the complaint” without giving any grounds for the decision.

Last week, another court dismissed a similar complaint against Sawaris, saying the plaintiff had no legal standing to petition the court.

The plaintiff was fined 50 Egyptian pounds (about eight dollars) for filing the case.

Islamists dominate both houses of Egypt’s parliament following multiphase elections, and the Muslim Brotherhood's dominant Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has installed its members as speakers of parliament and the senate.

A liberal coalition that included Sawiris’s Free Egyptians party won around 15 percent of the vote.

Sawiris, an outspoken liberal, was forced to take a back seat in politics after his involvement was seen as a hindrance to the party he founded, which had to battle accusations that it opposed the inclusion of Islamic law in the constitution.

After an uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak a year ago, the Coptic Christian minority ̶ roughly 10 percent of Egypt's population ̶ has grown fearful of its future after a spate of sectarian attacks.

Dozens of Christians have died in sectarian fighting over the past year and at least 20 were killed in a clash with soldiers in October during a protest.
The dominant Islamist parties, the FJP and Al-Nur of ultra-conservative Salafists, have vowed to protect Christian rights.

But the Islamists say Christians should not hold all the same privileges as Muslims, such as the right to run for president.