Prominent Egyptian Liberal to Face Trial for Insulting Islam

According to the Reuters FaithWorld blog, a Cairo prosecutor has decided to prosecute Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, head of the telecommunications firm MobilNil and founder of the secularist “Free Egyptians” party, on the charge of showing contempt for religion. The charge stems from an episode last June, when Sawiris tweeted a cartoon that many Muslims found offensive. The cartoon showed Mickey Mouse wearing a beard and Minnie Mouse wearing a face veil. Sawiris subsequently apologized for the incident.

The Reuters headline refers to Sawiris as a “leading Copt,” but in this BBC interview, in which he criticizes the “closed” nature of the Egyptian Christian community, he comes across more as a secular nationalist. Like other liberal parties,  his “Free Egyptians” party, which advocates the separation of religion and state, has struggled in recent parliamentary elections, which have been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and  more radical Salafi parties.

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