Egypt Independent

The Central Cairo Prosecution has referred Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris to trial over charges of defamation of religion.

Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris

In June, Sawiris posted a picture depicting Mickey Mouse wearing a beard and Minnie Mouse wearing a face veil on his Twitter account, a cartoon that many Muslims considered offensive.

Sawiris later apologized for posting the cartoon, however, his apology did not manage to calm the anger of Salafis who filed a report accusing him of defaming religion.

Salafi groups also launched a one-month campaign to boycott companies that Sawiris owns or is a partner in, such as Mobinil and Al-Masry Al-Youm, causing heavy losses, particularly for his mobile phone company.

On 25 June, Mamdouh Ismail, the lawyer for Jama’a al-Islamiya, and 14 other lawyers filed a suit over the incident, accusing Sawiris of intentionally ridiculing Islamic icons and attire.

According to the paper, Ismail said Sawiris has openly said he rejects Article 2 of the constitution, which states that Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its language, and Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation.

Ismail added that Sawiris previously expressed his rejection of the veil, which he said provides proof that the former intentionally derides Islamic dress.

Other Islamist movements also criticized Sawiris after he posted the cartoon.

In July, Mohamed Morsy, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, criticized Sawiris and described him as “a corrupt icon from the former regime.”

In August, meanwhile, Sawiris accused Islamists of “hijacking the 25 January revolution” and later said liberal forces will not allow Islamists to control the process of writing the new constitution.

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