Cairo: Egyptian actors have condemned a fatwa (religious edict) reportedly issued by an Algerian fundamentalist group against top Egyptian actor Adel Imam for his criticism of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
"Egyptian actors are outraged by this fatwa and the branding of Imam as an infidel," the Egyptian Actors' Association said in a statement following an emergency meeting this week.
Imam, best known for his works against militants, had lashed out at Hamas and blamed it for Israel's 22-day devastating onslaught against the Gaza Strip. "I am sure that Hamas made a terrible mistake, which resulted in the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinians," Imam, one of the Arab world's most popular actors, told the private Egyptian TV Al Hayat from Paris where he is receiving medical treatment.
"Such fatwas are no longer influential because they are frequently issued nowadays," said Imam. "I am sure that if I go to Algeria, I'd make the Algerian people kill the one who issued this fatwa against me because I am one of the most popular actors there."
Egyptian actors said in their pro-Imam statement that such fatwas "violate freedom of expression and revive the Inquisitions".
"By reviewing all the media remarks made by Imam on the Gaza war, we found that he advised different Palestinian factions to unify their ranks instead of being badly fragmented," said Ashraf Zaki, the head of the Egyptian Actors' Association.
"This is part of Imam's right to free expression and there's nothing wrong about it."