‘Cartoon insult’ case is thrown out by judge

AN EGYPTIAN court has thrown out a case brought against Christian telecoms tycoon and liberal politician Naguib Sawiris by a group of ultra-conservative Muslim 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 Mr Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, over a cartoon he posted online that they considered an insult to Islam.

Last June, Mr Sawiris, founder and chairman of the mobile phone operator Mobinil, tweeted a cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a long beard and Minnie Mouse veiled in black.

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The court, headed by Judge Ehab Yousry, dismissed the case against Mr Sawiris on the ground that it had been filed by individuals who “lack legal standing”.

Mr Sawiris’s company suffered a boycott by some customers when news of the cartoon spread, but Mr Sawiris said the impact had eased by October.

Mr Sawiris is a vocal critic of Islamist parties which have emerged in Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak was deposed in February last year. He is a co-founder of Free Egyptians, a liberal party advocating the separation of state and religion.