Cairo court drops defamation charges against top Arab actor

A Cairo appeals court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of one of the Arab world's most famous actors, Adel Imam, who had been sentenced to three months in jail for "defaming Islam."

The Egyptian actor, who is also a UN goodwill ambassador, was originally convicted in absentia in February, after being sued by Asran Mansur, a lawyer with Islamist ties.

The 71-year-old celebrity has a long history of legal tangles with Islamists who regard the actor's work as blasphemous.

In the latest case, the works criticised were the 1994 movie "Al-Irhabi" (The Terrorist), in which he plays an Islamist, and the play "Al-Zaeem" (The Leader), a comedy in which Imam pokes fun at the region's autocratic leaders.

"All the works in which I have starred went through the censors. Had they been found to be defamatory, the censors would have banned them," Imam told AFP when he was sentenced.

He has acted in more than 100 films, including the award-winning "The Yacoubian Building" from Alaa al-Aswani's novel, and 10 plays praised by the Arab public for their irreverence towards both the powerful and the religious.

Most Popular in Middle East