Egyptian billionaire and telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris will face trial on charges of contempt of religion after tweeting a caricature of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in Islamic garb, a lawyer who filed a legal complaint against him said Monday.
“This is the first fair decision of the prosecution to send Naguib Sawiris to trial, and there are two other cases on which Sawiris has not been sent to trial yet,” lawyer Mamduh Ismail, a member of the ultra-conservative al-Gamaa al-Islamiya group, told Al Arabiya.
“The decision to send Sawiris to court affirms that we have begun the implementation of the rule of law and the achievement of justice in the true sense of the word and that no one is above the law anymore,” Ismail added.
“The chief prosecutor summoned Sawiris to hear his explanation about the charges he faces ─ defamation of religion ─ and after that a decision was issued to refer the case to court.”
The court will hear the case against the billionaire Coptic Christian who founded the liberal Free Egyptians party on Jan. 14, Ismail said.
Sawiris sparked a firestorm of criticism after tweeting a cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a beard and Minnie Mouse in a face veil in June 2011, joking that the cartoon characters would be forced to dress conservatively if Islamists took power.
He apologized for the caricature after Islamists called for a boycott of his cell phone service provider Mobinil.
The list that Sawiris’ party was on won no more than 15 percent of the vote over three rounds of parliamentary elections since November that have been dominated by Islamists.
Head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Morsy, in July 2011 Slammed Sawiris as “a corrupt icon from the former regime.”
Sawiris hit back in August 2011accusing Islamists of “hijacking the 25 January revolution” vowing that liberal forces in Egypt will not allow Islamists to solely take charge of drafting a new constitution.
In a previous interview with Al Arabiya TV, the Egyptian tycoon accused Egypt’s Islamist movements, mainly the Brotherhoods and the Salafists, of having received foreign funding during their election campaigns.