Egypt's business mogul Sawiris under fire for Islamic cartoons

Ahram Online, Monday 27 Jun 2011

Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris may be summoned by the prosecutor general for tweeting cartoons that were deemed defamatory to the Islamic faith


Islamic lawyer Mamdouh Ismael and 14 lawyers submitted a complaint to the general prosecutor's office against Naguib Sawiris after he posted a cartoon of popular cartoon characters Mickey Mouse with an Islamic beard and dressed in a Jilbab and Minnie Mouse wearing a full Muslim veil on twitter. The post was accompanied with the comment: “Mickey and Minnie after”

Ismael said that the images were defamatory and ridiculed the Islamic faith. However, Ismael stressed that he is not going after Sawiris because he is a Copt.

Ahmed Mahmoud Kareema, Professor of Islamic Shariaa at Al-Azhar University, said that insulting religion is criminalized by the Islamic faith and Sawiris would not like it if the tables were turned and people mocked the clothes worn by Christian clerics, and, furthermore, had he mocked the clothes of Jewish rabbis, he would have been accused of being an anti-Semitic.

Following the incident, Sawiris who was attacked on social networking sites, insisted that he meant no harm and simply thought the images were funny. However, “Boycott Sawiris,” groups were launched on both Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook group titled, “We were also joking Sawiris,” urged people to boycott his products saying that “if you are really a Muslim, boycott his (Sawiris) products if you love your faith. Spread the message, we have to cut the tongues of those who defame our faith.”

After being repeatedly attacked for posting the photo, on June 24, Sawiris wrote on twitter, “I apologize for any who don’t take this as a joke, I just thought it was a funny picture, no disrespect meant! Assef (sorry).” The next day, he repeated the apology on Twitter, saying “I at least apologized as I had no intention to mock any religion.”

Sawiris is the founder of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, which was established after the 25 January revolution.

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