Cairo: An Egyptian court yesterday sentenced two journalists to one year in prison after finding them guilty of printing a report in their newspaper about the alleged homosexuality of three celebrities.
The Misdemeanour Court of Al Sayeda Zainab in southern Cairo also ordered the two journalists — Abdou Maghrabi, Editor-in-Chief of Al Balagh Al Gadida, and Ehab Al Ajami, a journalist for the same weekly — to pay 40,000 Egyptian pounds (Dh26,700) each in fines for the report, which claimed that Egyptian actors Nour Al Sharif, Khalid Abul Naga and Hamdi Al Wazir were caught in a homosexual situation in a Cairo hotel.
Homosexuality is punishable under Egyptian law and sternly frowned upon in Sharia.
The same court referred to another court a lawsuit filed by Al Sharif demanding 10 million pounds in compensation.
Egyptian journalists have been unsuccessfully trying to scrap prison sentences in publishing cases.
Several years ago, President Hosni Mubarak promised to cancel such penalties. He has yet to keep his promise.
Most public figures in Egypt want to avoid being connected to homosexuality, which could damage their popularity among Muslim fans.
Al Sharif did not seem bothered by the accusations of belonging to a prostitution network, but was frustrated at being described as a homosexual.
"Naming me among homosexuals defamed me and all Egyptian artists. The Journalists Syndicate has to be firm with anyone trying to insult the dignity of Egyptian artists," he said.