Last updated: 14 January, 2012

Trial delayed for Egypt tycoon for insulting religion

An Egypt court postponed on Saturday the first hearing in the trial of telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris for insulting religion because the billionaire failed to show up, a judicial source said.

Sherif Kamel said the new hearing would take place on February 11.

Sawiris sparked a fire storm of criticism after tweeting a cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a beard and Minnie Mouse in a face veil, joking that the cartoon characters would be forced to dress conservatively if Islamists took power.

An Islamist lawyer Mamduh Ismail filed the case against Sawiris, although the Coptic Christian businessman had apologised for the caricature after Islamists called for a boycott of his cell phone service provider Mobinil.

On Saturday, another lawyer, Ali Ahmad Borham, launched a diatribe against Sawiris saying the cartoon he tweeted was an “unprecedented” attempt in Egypt at making fun of religion, the source said.

He also described Sawiris as a criminal, triggering the fury of the magnate’s defence team, the source added.

Sawiris, head of Orascom Telecom and one of Egypt’s most successful businessmen, founded the liberal Free Egyptians party after last year’s revolution that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

The list that his 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.