Egypt is again showing the world that it is regressing into medieval religious orthodoxy under the enforcement of Islamic values through criminal laws. The latest victim of religious orthodoxy is actress Rania Youssef who may go to jail for wearing a revealing dress. That’s right, she is facing criminal charges for wearing a dress at the Cairo Film Festival. Just for the record, I hate the dress. But that is a stylistic matter. The case is an attack on free speech and what is most disturbing is that it is the work of two lawyers who seem to relish being vehicles of repression and intolerance.
The charges were brought by lawyers Amro Abdelsalam and Samir Sabri, who seem to have made it their focus to monitor and seek to punish others for appearances that upset them. They represent the most insidious form of lawyers who come to the profession not to champion individual rights but to use the law to deny it to others.
Youssef is charged with “inciting debauchery” and could be jailed for up to five years if found guilty.
Sabri stated that Youssef’s appearance “did not meet societal values, traditions and morals and therefore undermined the reputation of the festival and the reputation of Egyptian women in particular.”
Egypt continues to struggle with emerging as a truly modern nation and the continued pull of orthodoxy back to intolerance and repression. In this case, two lawyers are leading the way back into history.