Syrian actress sparks Cairo melee with Assad ode

Syrian actress Ragda sparked a melee in a Cairo poetry convention after she praised Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, angering an Islamist in the crowd, witnesses said.

The actress, who lives in Cairo, read a poem praising the dictator and condemning the Muslim Brotherhood, the ruling movement in Egypt whose Syrian branch opposes Assad, during the convention on Wednesday.

An Islamist in the crowd who took umbrage at the poem attacked her, witnesses said, setting off a melee in which people hurled fire extinguishers at each other.

Egypt's Islamist rulers strongly back the rebellion against Assad, in which an estimated 70,000 people have been killed since March 2011.