Artist: Adel Imam
Date of Action: February-April 2012
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Religion
Medium: Film Video
Confronting Bodies: Asran Mansour, lawyer associated with Islamist groups
Description of Artwork: Imam, an acclaimed Egyptian actor, is known for his involvement in hugely popular films and plays which contain comic critiques of Islam. Three works were specified by Mansour in his lawsuit against Imam: "the film Al-Irhabi (The Terrorist), in which Imam plays a radical Islamist; the play Al-Zaeem (The Leader), a comedy satirising Middle Eastern autocrats; and the film Morgan Ahmed Morgan, which sees a rich businessman stand for parliament."
The Incident: Mansour brought the lawsuit against Imam on account of what he considered offensively and "frequently mocking the authorities and politicians in his films and plays, and offending Islam and its symbols." In the initial trial, Imam was sentenced to three months in prison, along with a minor fine. Although Imam did appeal the sentence, it was upheld by an Egyptian court in May 2012.
Results of Incident: Hend Sabri, a former co-star of Imam's, said that the whole incident is both "legal nonsense and ethical nonsense," adding that we should expect a major protest. Sabri also noted the recent prevalence of self-censorship based in a fear of expressing unpopular opinions through art.
Imam's case is currently under appeal, and a verdict is due on September 12.