Telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris posted a picture on twitter several days ago of Mickey Mouse in a beard and Minnie in a veil, called “Micky and Minnie after…” (via Memri Blog).
The picture generated a firestorm of criticism, death threats and a boycott of his companies, according to the AP:
The ultraconservative Islamists, known as Salafis, called the cartoon posted by Naguib Sawiris on Twitter a mockery of Islam. They launched an online campaign calling on Muslims in Egypt to boycott Sawiris’ mobile phone company Mobinil. Shares of Mobilnil and Orascom Telecom, which Sawiris founded, both fell Monday on the Egyptian stock exchange.
…new Facebook groups cropped and quickly gained more than 60,000 followers, calling for a boycott of his widely used cell phone company. Named “We are joking Sawiris,” the Facebook group said: “If you are really a Muslim, and you love your religion, boycott his projects. We have to cut out the tongue of any person who attacks our religion.”
At least 15 Salafi lawyers have filed lawsuits accusing Sawiris of religious contempt, an official at the prosecutor general office said.
All this despite Sawiris’s prompt apology: “I apologise for those who don’t take this as a joke; I just thought it was a funny picture; no disrespect meant. I am sorry,” he tweeted.
The picture was originally circulated in a viral email with a slogan that read, “This is the future of Egypt,” according to Al Arabiya.
Five months after Egypt’s Bloody Friday, it’s not clear whether Egypt’s future points to fundamentalist Islam or toward economic liberalization — indeed billionaire Sawiris is a presumptive presidential candidate with his Free Egyptians party.
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