Reportedly offended by


A court in Egypt has upheld the three-month prison sentence given to the leading comic actor, Adel Imam, for insulting Islam in his films and plays.

Is that an accurate translation? Is that really what the charge is? “Insulting” Islam? How do you “insult” an abstraction? In English, at least, you don’t. You don’t “insult” capitalism or advertising or libertarianism or computer programming or socialism. You can only insult people. The word implies reception and reaction, which imply consciousness, and fairly elaborate consciousness at that. You can only insult something with a mind. Insult requires Theory of Mind.

The case brought against Imam by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups, accused the actor of frequently mocking the authorities and politicians in his films and plays, and offending Islam and its symbols.

Imam’s movies regularly top the Egyptian box office and the types of roles he plays have varied enormously across his career.

Mr Mansour was reportedly offended by the film Al-Irhabi (The Terrorist), in which Imam plays a radical Islamist; the play Al-Zaeem (The Leader), a comedy satirising Middle Eastern autocrats; and the film Morgan Ahmed Morgan, which sees a rich businessman stand for parliament.

Egypt must have an incredibly flawed legal system, for such a case to make sense. One, why should the courts care what Mr Mansour was “offended” by; two, actors in movies are not necessarily responsible for the content of the movies anyway. Three, fuck off.


  1. iknklast says

    Don’t you know, poets and artists (of any kind) have always been dangerous to the state. Their role in poking fun at ridiculous ideas is rarely appreciated, and that’s why so many art exhibits, plays, and other works are always getting banned even in the west.

    Art can make people think; the last thing religion wants is making people think. And if the state is tied to the religion, it won’t want that, either (or sometimes, even if it’s not – look at America. Our politicians seem to be actively hostile to the idea that the electorate might think).

  2. says

    Still, it’s odd that in this case it’s an actor. It’s like busting Richard Burbage for Hamlet. Islamists must be incredibly literal-minded. “Well he’s the one who said it!! I saw him with my own eyes.”

  3. Robert B. says

    What Martyn said. I’m not sure about your analysis of the word “insult,” but it doesn’t matter. The proper response to tyranny is defiance. Fuck off, indeed.

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