CAIRO, (AFP) — Egyptian tycoon and politician Naguib Sawiris has come under fire for posting a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Islamic dress, sparking a torrent of condemnation on social networking sites.
Several lawyers have filed complaints to the public prosecutor accusing Sawiris of “insulting Islam”, a judicial source said, with calls on Facebook and Twitter to boycott his Mobinil telephone operator.
The magnate, a Christian, had posted a picture on his Twitter account of Disney character Mickey Mouse wearing a traditional Arabic robe and sporting a thick beard, next to a Minnie Mouse donning a niqab, or full face veil.
The posting prompted a flood of comments slamming Sawiris — who founded the liberal Free Egyptians party after an uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February — accusing him of disrespect.
Sawiris has since apologised on his Twitter page, saying: “I apologise for any who don’t take this as a joke, I just thought it was a funny picture no disrespect meant! Assef!! (sorry)”.
Some say the whole tweet was “blown out of proportion” but for others Sawiris’s apology is simply not accepted.
“There’s a fine line between expressing your opinion/freedom of speech and being flat out disrespectful,” said one woman on twitter.
Some argue the posting in itself is harmless, but they question the timing, when sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians are high.
The picture first circulated weeks ago in an email that went viral with a slogan that read “this is the future of Egypt,” reflecting widespread fears of the increasing assertiveness of Islamist groups since the January 25 revolt.