Thursday, February 02, 2012

Egypt imprisons popular actor for "insulting Islam"

From Al Arabiya:

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.
Imam had criticized Hamas at the outset of the Gaza war - and afterwards.

He also made a film in 1994 about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism:
Egypt's film industry is the bedrock of popular culture throughout the Arab world, and "The Terrorist" in the month since its release has become the top Egyptian movie moneymaker of all time, earning half its $447,000 budget in the first three days of its release. It has opened in theaters throughout the Arab world, despite threats from Islamic extremists and decrees banning it in Jordan and northern Lebanon.

Then it shows the perpetrator of many of the attacks-[Adel Imam], dressed in Islamic militant gear as Brother Ali-hit by a car and left to convalesce in the home of an upper-middle-class family in the Cairo suburbs. With his true identity unknown to the family, Ali living in their midst learns the meaning of love and tolerance. He finds himself listening as the family roars with laughter at the ravings of a militant cleric, singing in the shower when he learns the family's beautiful daughter loves him, and impetuously hugging the Christian Copt he formerly loathed when the two men watch with rapture the Egyptian soccer team score a victory.

Imam's huge popularity is the engine behind the film's popularity. His expressive and not particularly handsome face has become the mirror of the Egyptian middle class, with its tribulations, celebrations and frustrations. This is not the first time Imam has taken on militant Islam. Six years ago, as fundamentalists in the militant stronghold of Asyut in southern Egypt declared art forbidden under Islam, Imam took his theatrical troupe on the road, performing for poor Egyptians in the heart of Asyut.
Imam has always been considered close to the Mubarak regime.

The Islamic Winter is descending over Egypt.