CAIRO: Telecom tycoon and political liberal Naguib Sawiris will face trial on a charge of showing contempt for religion, judicial sources and Mamdouh Ismail, the Islamist lawyer who brought the case, said on Monday.
Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, was accused by a group of about 20 lawyers of showing contempt by tweeting a cartoon seen as insulting to Islam.
A Cairo prosecutor referred the case to trial on Monday. Sawiris, chairman of the mobile phone operator Mobinil, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The cartoon incident in June triggered a boycott by some Mobinil customers, though Sawiris said the impact had eased by October.
Sawiris is a vocal critic of Islamist parties which have emerged in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last February. He is a co-founder of the Free Egyptians (Al-Masryeen Al-Ahrar), a liberal party advocating separation of state and religion.
Like other liberal groups, the party has struggled to make an impact in parliamentary elections underway since late November and which have been dominated by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the Nour Party, a more hardline Salafi group.
Ismail, a member of another Salafi party, said the prosecutor’s decision to put Sawiris on trial showed that the law applied to all. "It’s a decision showing that there is justice in Egypt," he told Reuters.