'Muslim Mickey' Tweet Lands Egypt Mogul in Court

'Contempt of religion' case seen as barometer of Egypt future
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jan 11, 2012 12:57 AM CST
Updated Jan 11, 2012 2:17 AM CST
'I thought it was funny,' tweeted Telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris in his apology.   (Facebook)
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(Newser) – An Egyptian billionaire is headed to court on charges of "contempt for religion" for tweeting photos of a bearded Mickey Mouse and veiled Minnie. The case is being closely watched as a possible sign of things to come as conservative Islamists surge in popularity in the new Egypt. Telecom mogul Naquib Sawiris, a Coptic Christian who's one of the richest men in his nation, tweeted the pictures, created by someone else, months ago to mock the increasing influence of Islamists. Critics immediately slammed him, with one Muslim calling for his tongue to be cut out, as others organized a boycott of his companies. Sawiris quickly removed the tweet and apologized. "I just thought it was a funny picture," he Twittered. "No disrespect meant!"

His lawyer said the move against Sawiris now is a clear attack on freedom of expression, and evidence that “there is no rule of law in Egypt," reports the Washington Post. But one of a group of conservative lawyers who filed the complaint against Sawiris told Reuters that the court case "shows there is justice in Egypt." The political party that Sawiris founded after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, the liberal Free Egyptians, meanwhile, has announced that it's boycotting upcoming elections for the upper house of parliament because violations in polls for the lower house had not been properly addressed. The party, along with many Egyptian Christians and liberals, are fearful of the growing influence of conservative Islamists in the country, notes the BBC. (Read more Naguib Sawiris stories.)

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