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Female film director faces possible flogging at behest of lawyer affiliated with National Democratic Party

(ANHRI/IFEX) - One of the lawyers affiliated with the Egyptian National Democratic Party (NDP) who is a specialist in "Hesba" cases (which involve alleged insults to God, which are deemed harmful to Islamic society) against authors and artists has demanded the flogging of an Egyptian female movie director. He sent an official warning to the Sheikh of Azhar demanding the execution of his request, said ANHRI on 13 August 2008.

The Hesba lawyer gave the Sheikh of Azhar eight days to execute the flogging of the prominent Egyptian female movie director, Enas El-Dighaidy, whom he said should receive eighty lashes because of a movie she directed, called "Diaries of a Teenager Girl", which he claims defames Egypt.

It is worth mentioning that this same Hesba lawyer demanded, in one of his previous court cases, the punishment of an Egyptian actress because she refrained from wearing a veil. He was also one of the lawyers who demanded that Ibrahim Eissa, chief editor of "Al-Dustour" newspaper, be put on trial in the case known as "the President's Health case".

ANHRI notes that Hesba has become a nightmare for authors and artists. Such Hesba cases could not have increased without the government's blessing and its cooperation with the Hesba lawyers. Such an attitude by the government allows for a heavy pressure to be exerted on brave journalists and bloggers, who are still paying a high price for allowing us to enjoy the benefits of a small margin of freedom of expression.

The Freedom of Expression Legal Aid Unit of ANHRI is strongly supporting El-Dighaidy and all Egyptian artists and creators and calls on all active entities and civil society organisations to stand against in both the religious and political spheres to the phenomenon of Hesba, whether these cases are filed by fame-seekers or instigated by the Egyptian government.

ANHRI also calls on all serious media institutions to ignore those Hesba lawyers and not to publish their names in order to avoid making false stars out of them and to minimise their chances of exercising more influence on the NDP, as well as to assure the right of every journalist or author to express him or herself, regardless of whether one agrees or not with their views.

For further information on the Eissa (Issa) case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93126

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