The Haram Misdemeanor Appeals Court has set a 12 September date to hear popular Egyptian comedian Adel Imam’s appeal against a three-month prison sentence he received for committing blasphemy against Islam.
In a session held on Wednesday, the court heard Imam’s defense and the prosecution's argument. The press was not permitted to photograph or record the proceedings.
Imam has frequently poked fun at the authorities and politicians during his 40-year career, and his more serious films have dealt with the rise of Islamist militancy. The actor was found guilty of defaming Islam on 2 February and fined LE1,000 in absentia.
A different lawsuit accusing Imam of the same charges was heard at a different court in April, and dismissed.
On Wednesday, members of the Actors Syndicate who attended the court session held signs bearing the slogans, “No to freedom of creativity restriction… a revolution until our demands are fulfilled.”
The session began with an opening argument by Asran Mansour, the lawyer who initially brought the case against Imam. He asked the court to reject the actor’s appeal.
Mansour said that Adel Imam offended Islam by mocking some Islamic customs, like wearing a beard or veil, and insulted all Egyptian women in his play “A Witness Whose Seen Nothing” when he said, “If everyone will move out if a belly dancer lives downstairs, the whole country will sleep in the street.”
Labib Moawad, head of Imam’s defense, claimed that the case was unfounded because Imam had been acquitted of the same charges by the Agouza Misdemeanor Court, along with his co-defendants, the film directors Nader Galal, Mohamed Fadel and Sherif Arafa, and the writers Lenin al-Ramly and Waheed Hamed.
Imam’s defense argued that the acquittal had not been challenged and is final, therefore making these charges unfounded.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm