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Egyptian actress says defamation verdict victory for “state of law” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Egyptian actress Elham Shaheen announced her satisfaction at the judgment issued against preacher Abdullah Badr after he accused her of committing indecent acts in her movies and wearing seductive clothes that incite immorality. A preliminary ruling was issued against Badr sentencing him to one year imprisonment with hard labor and a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds [EGP]. According to Egyptian law, Badr can appeal the verdict issued against him by paying a 5,000 EGP fine. Badr is a professor of Interpretation and Quranic Sciences at Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque and presents a television show on the Islamist El-Hafez channel. He criticized Shaheen during his television program, reportedly stating that “Elham Shaheen is cursed and she will never enter heaven”.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Egyptian actress said that this ruling represented a victory for the state of law, confirming that the battle is ongoing through the presence of several other lawsuits that are pending before the courts. Whilst supporters of Abdullah Badr have claimed that he is innocent and will appeal against this verdict.

Shaheen revealed that a number of al-Azhar Sheikhs had announced their solidarity with her after she was exposed to verbal abuse and defamation by television preachers due to her work as a film actress. She said that what she faced in terms of defamation represents “the defamation of a chaste woman”. She added “the true Muslim is the one who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongue and hands”, citing a famous hadith.

The Egyptian actress expressed her hope that all those who try to insult artists and entertainment figures learn a lesson from this case, although she added that she did not expect some television and satellite preachers to do so.

For its part, the Egyptian Cinema Syndicate described the verdict against Abdullah Badr as a victory for the freedom of creativity and the state of law. The Egyptian Cinema Syndicate congratulated Elham Shaheen on her judicial victory, confirming that the impartial Egyptian judiciary had voted according to its conscience. The Syndicate also stressed that freedoms and rights in Egypt cannot be violated so long as the Egyptian judiciary stands firm.

Shaheen told Asharq Al-Awsat that she did not want to raise a lawsuit against anybody, but felt that she ultimately had no choice but to take the Islamist television preacher to court for his distressing comments.

She stressed that “even during the court proceedings some figures from civil parties and forces called on me to attend the court proceedings myself…but I refused to do so and also called on them not to do so for fear of clashes with some other parties.”

She added “we are in a civilized country and a respectable state that upholds the letter of the law, and I am confident that this right will only survive thanks to laws that respect…all Egyptian artists who could be exposed to harm.”

Shaheen called on any Egyptian artist who had been subject to defamation by religious preachers to take the case to the courts, stressing that they must not remain silent regarding their rights. She added that many Egyptian artists have been defamed and slandered in this precise manner, including Yusra, Laila Elwi, Nour El-Sherif, Hala Sadqi, Fifi Abdou and others, revealing that many of them are in the process of raising similar lawsuits.

As for the situation following the judicial verdict issued against Abdullah Badr, Shaheen informed Asharq Al-Awsat “I have received some threats via some satellite television channels, and I was defamed once more.”

She added “I also previously received threats via my email, however I have not received any direct threats as of yet, whilst in the event that I do receive a death threat I will have no choice but to resort to the Interior Ministry for protection.”

For their part, supporters of Abdullah Badr revealed that he will appeal the verdict issued against him, adding that they are completely certain of his innocence.