ANHRI denounces the ruling of Haram Misdemeanors Court upholding the in absentia imprisonment sentence against the actor Adel Imam. This is a new Hesba case (litigation filed by private parties in the name of protecting state interests) which was filed by a lawyer accusing Imam of contempt for Islam in some of his works that allegedly ridicule Islamists and the Islamic religion, such as the films al-Irhab wal Kabab (Terrorism and Kebabs), Toyour al-Zalam (Birds of darkness), and Morgan Ahmed Morgan.
Earlier this year, Haram Misdemeanor Court had sentenced Imam in absentia to three months imprisonment and labour, as well as a bail of one hundred pounds and a civil reparation of fifty one pounds. Misdemeanour case No. 24215 of 2011 was filed by Esran Mansour, lawyer, against Imam without having any capacity or interest in this litigation. Hence, it is another case added to the list of political and religious Hesba litigation. On 24 April, the same court upheld the in absentia sentence.
“This sentence is a regrettable setback of freedom of expression and freedom of creativity. It leaves the door wide open for fame seekers who have no capacity or interest to file more religious and political Hesba cases and impose a new kind of censorship on creativity, other than that laid out in the law. We were hoping that the Egyptian judiciary would be the protector of freedoms that repels this kind of censorship,” said ANHRI.
“The Egyptian law and regulations governing the film industry identify the channels through which a film has to go before being screened to the public. These works had already been approved by the Control Board which allowed their filming. The Egyptian TV has screened them for over 15 years. It is illogical that the judiciary penalizes those who made them now, despite passing through all these stages,” added ANHRI.
ANHRI affirms that it will take part in the defense team of Imam and appeal the sentence before the Appealed Misdemeanours Court and will get him acquitted, especially that there is a great deal of sentences that are issued in primary levelled courts are repealed due to legal errors.
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