An Egyptian actress is set to face trial next month for wearing a see-through dress at the Cairo International Film Festival that showed her legs, a judicial source said on Saturday.
Rania Youssef appeared at the closing session of the event on Thursday wearing a black lacy dress that exposed what some commentators described as a swimsuit beneath it.
This prompted two lawyers to lodge a case against her accusing the actress of “inciting debauchery”, a charge that could land her in jail for up to five years if she is convicted, the source said.
The first legal case alleging obscenity was filed by lawyer Amro Abdelsalam and the second by Samir Sabri, another lawyer known for taking celebrities to court.
Sabri told the AFP news agency 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”.
Her trial is scheduled to begin on January 12.
Pictures of the 44-year-old star left social media users divided, with some criticising her and others defending Youssef’s right to wear what she wants.
“This dress and design is called ‘I forgot my trousers while going to be honoured’,” wrote one Twitter user, in Arabic.
Others frowned upon the criticism, with one user, Estella Joyce, urging Egyptians to drag themselves “out of the dark ages”.
Wondering what's happening in Egypt? Actress Rania Youssef wore this dress to the Cairo International Film Festival. ⬇️
A group of lawyers then took it upon themselves to submit a legal complaint against Rania for what they have determined to be too revealing for a dress. pic.twitter.com/PPBezxd04E
— Mai El-Sadany (@maitelsadany) December 1, 2018
Normal person: sees rania youssef's dress and moves on
Egyptian person: YaLaHwYy El SoUrA dI lAzEm TeB2a Me7WaR 7aYaTy
— Maryam (@MaryamBazar3a) December 1, 2018
The Egyptian Actors’ Syndicate also weighed in, without naming Youssef or any other celebrity.
“The appearance of some of the festival’s guests did not agree with the traditions and values of the society, and this has undermined the festival and the union which is responsible for its members’ behaviour,” it said in a statement.
Youssef, who is a member of the union, later issued an “apology” on her official Twitter account to the “many (people) angered” by her appearance.
“I probably miscalculated when I chose to wear this dress. It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realise it would spark so much anger,” she said.
“I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society,” she added.
Egypt is a largely conservative country with a Muslim majority.
Earlier this year, prosecutors detained a female singer for four days for “incitement to debauchery” after an online video clip which includes dances went viral.
Last year, another female pop singer was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges, also over a video deemed provocative. Her sentence was reduced to a year on appeal.