CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Tuesday threw out a case brought against telecoms tycoon and liberal politician Naguib Sawiris by a group of lawyers who accused him of showing contempt for religion, saying the plaintiffs had no legal standing in the case.
The lawyers had brought the case against Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, over a cartoon he posted online that they considered an insult to Islam.
Sawiris, chairman and founder of the mobile phone operator Mobinil, tweeted a cartoon in June of Mickey Mouse with a long beard and Minnie Mouse veiled in black.
The court, headed by Judge Ehab Yousry, dismissed the case against Sawiris on the ground that it had been filed by individuals who “lack legal standing”.
Sawiris’s company suffered a boycott by some customers when news of the tweeted cartoon spread, but Sawiris said the impact had eased by October.
After the cartoon was posted in June, he tweeted an apology and removed the post.
A different court is scheduled to rule on March 3 on a similar case filed by another group of lawyers, including one Islamist who is also a member of parliament.
The plaintiff in that case is MP Mamduh Ismail, a hardline Islamist lawyer with the ultra-conservative Al-Nour Party.
Al-Nour came second to the Islamist but more moderate Freedom and Justice Party in a three-round election that began in November, leaving parliament with an Islamist majority for the first time in Egypt’s history.
Earlier this month, the Arab world’s most famous comic actor, Egyptian Adel Imam, received a three-month jail sentence for insulting Islam in films and plays.
Sawiris is a vocal critic of Islamist parties which have emerged in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February last year. He is a co-founder of the Free Egyptians (Al-Masryeen Al-Ahrar), a liberal party advocating the separation of state and religion.
The liberal coalition that included the Free Egyptians Party won around 15 percent of the vote in the parliamentary elections.