CAIRO, (Reuters) – An Egyptian court has sentenced an Islamist politician to jail for committing an indecent sexual act in public and assaulting police who arrested him, in a case that could damage the image of his ultra-conservative movement.
Ali Wanees was detained in June on a main road outside Cairo. A young woman wearing a full face veil was sitting on top of him in a parked car, according to police.
Wanees said the woman was a relative and he had been trying to revive her after she suffered from an ailment which he did not explain.
The woman was sentenced to six months in prison, state news agency MENA said on Saturday, adding that both could avoid prison if they paid a fine. Wanees was convicted in absentia and his whereabouts were unknown.
Wanees was a member of parliament in the now-dissolved parliament for al-Asala, a small Salafi group that advocates a strict interpretation of Islam and prohibits sex outside marriage.
Islamists have made enormous political gains since the overthrow last year of President Hosni Mubarak, whose government long sought to suppress them.
Wanees’s conviction could discredit a movement that sees itself as a paragon of public morality.
Earlier this year a member of al-Nour, another Salafi group, resigned in disgrace.
Seeking to explain bandages on his face, he said he had been attacked by gunmen. It later emerged he had undergone cosmetic surgery on his nose, a practice forbidden by his movement.