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Comedian given three months' imprisonment for "insulting Islam"

UPDATE: Comedian loses appeal, similar lawsuits rejected (EOHR, 26 April 2012)

(EOHR/IFEX) - The Egyptian organization for Human Rights (EOHR) is concerned by the hisba lawsuits brought against public figures on changes of contempt of religion, resulting in a restriction of free expression. While the Egyptian criminal court procedures have been amended and article no. 3 now calls for a complaint to be submitted by the victim or his lawyer to the prosecutor general office, orally or in writing.

Among these cases is a lawsuit filed against the Egyptian businessman Nageb Sawerus for contempt of Islam, despite his many apologies to Muslims for the incident in question. Bolak Abu El Ela Misdemeanor Court will issue a decision on the case on March 3, 2012. Another lawsuit was filed against the comedian Adel Imam for artistic works against Islam. Al Haram Misdemeanor Court sentenced him to three months' imprisonment and a 1000 LE fine (approx. US$165).

EOHR emphasizes their unlimited support of freedom of expression and artistic freedom. Charging individuals for acts of expression represents a negative indicator to the future of the freedom of expression in Egypt. EOHR also calls for the reorganisation of the judicial structures in order to prevent these kinds of court decisions against freedom of expression and the establishment of rules for filing lawsuits that are in accordance withinternational standards of human rights.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of (EOHR) emphasized the importance of freedom of expression according to the international standards of human rights. These kind of issues have to be discussed in a respectful manner through direct debates outside of courthouses.

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