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TV sheikh gets jail sentence for defaming Egyptian actress

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An Egyptian court sentenced Islamic preacher Abdullah Badr on Monday to one year in prison and set the bail at 20,000 Egyptian pounds (U.S.$3242.48) for defaming prominent Egyptian actress Elham Shaheen, Egyptian’s daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Badr, a professor of Interpretation and Quranic Sciences at Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque, accused Shaheen of committing indecent acts in her movies and wearing seductive clothes that incite immorality.

He criticized the actress during his TV show on the Egyptian El-Hafez channel, saying that “Elham Shaheen is cursed and she will never enter heaven,” local Egyptian media reported in November.

In response, Shaheen filed a lawsuit against Badr and the channel's head Atef Abdel Rashed, accusing them of incitement, spreading chaos, disturbing public security and committing blasphemy.

Shaheen claimed Badr attacked her publically after she made a statement expressing her fear of the Islamic political tide sweeping the country and said that she would not vote for Islamic political parties in the elections, Ahram Online reported on Tuesday.

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi asked his spokesperson to call Elham Shaheen and assure the actress of his support, Egypt Independent reported in September.

Mursi reportedly said he is against slander and would take legal action against anyone accused of it.

During the court sessions, Egypt's Actors Syndicate chief Ashraf Abdel Ghafour said he was surprised by Badr’s statements against Shaheen, adding that he suffered psychological damage because of the preacher’s comments.

In recent months, several public figures have filed lawsuits against religious preachers accusing them of defamation.