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Trial postponed for Egyptian tycoon who 'insulted religion' with a Twitpic

Naguib Sawiris posted a picture to Twitter showing Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing Islamic clothing.

Sawiris Naguib's trial has been delayed until February 11 because he did not attend court for today's hearings.
Sawiris Naguib's trial has been delayed until February 11 because he did not attend court for today's hearings.
Image: SANDRO PACE/AP

AN EGYPTIAN COURT has postponed the trial of a billionaire magnate who faces blasphemy charges for posting a picture to Twitter.

The photo posted by telecoms investor Naguib Sawiris in June of last year showed what Mickey and Minnie Mouse would look like in Islamic clothing – an apparent joke at how they would look if conservatives won power in the first post-Mubarak elections.

His tweet sparked waves of criticism within the country, and Sawiris deleted the picture shortly after it was posted – but still found himself being charged with blasphemy for his picture.

The trial was due to begin in Cairo today, but was deferred until February 11 after Sawiris himself did not show up for the hearing. His representatives said they were happy for the trial to proceed without him.

There were still angry scenes in the courtroom, however: Daily News Egypt reports that Sawiris’ lawyers had to be restrained after the prosecution referred to him as “a criminal”.

Sawiris – who himself is a Coptic Christian – is one of Egypt’s most successful businessman, and founded a liberal ‘Free Egyptians’ party last year after Mubarak was ousted from power.

Bikya Masr said his Mobinil mobile phone empire was the target of Islamist calls for a boycott, in response to his tweet, and lost around 300,000 customers as a result.

Sawiris is no stranger to controversy: the Washington Post says he recently faced fresh ire after a video was posted to YouTube of him receiving a lapdance in a nightclub.

In another interview given last month he claimed that his countrymen had become ‘lazy and unproductive’ because the genes held in the era of the Pharaohs had deteriorated.

If convicted of the present charge, he could face a year in jail.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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