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Bearded Mickey Mouse cartoon stirs anger in Egypt

Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, a Coptic Christian and one of Egypt's richest men, has apologized for tweeting cartoons of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in conservative Muslim attire.
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Mickey and Minnie Mouse. An Egypt Christian telecom mogul, one of the country’s richest men, has been accused of mocking Islam after tweeting cartoons of Mickey and Minnie in conservative Muslim dress. (ANDREW ROSS /AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris has come under fire for tweeting cartoons of Mickey Mouse in a conservative Islamic beard and Minnie Mouse in a face veil.

Sawiris, who is a Coptic Christian and one of the country’s richest men, had re-posted the Mickey Mouse cartoons on Twitter.

The images show Mickey Mouse with a full beard and wearing a traditional Arabic robe. Minnie Mouse is wearing a niqab — a full-body veil — with just her eyes visible. She is identifiable by her large ears and hair ribbon.

The images were already circulating online before Sawiris re-posted them.

Sawiris apologized on Twitter for tweeting the cartoon and said he meant no offence.

"I apologize for those who don't take this as a joke, I just thought it was a funny picture; no disrespect meant. I am sorry," he tweeted.

Ultraconservative Islamists in Egypt, known as Salafis, called the cartoon posted by Sawiris on Twitter a mockery of Islam.

More than 60,000 people have joined Facebook groups condemning him. One of the Facebook groups is named "We hate you Mickey Sawiris," and depicts Sawiris as Mickey Mouse. The group's motto is: "No to mockery of Islam."

Lawyers from the Salafi movement, which is a purist Islamic sect, have filed a formal complaint against him, and there are calls for a boycott of his businesses, including his telecom company Orascom, which owns Egypt’s largest cell phone company, Mobinil.

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Malaysian government's Facebook faux pas

The Tourism Ministry spent $600,000 on its Facebook presence, which critics say was a total waste.
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A Malaysian professional uses Facebook in Kuala Lumpur on October 31, 2010. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Some 6-year-olds can do it without any help or even allowance money, but the Malaysian government apparently needed $600,000 to figure out Facebook.

Or so critics say.

Malaysians are up in arms over the fact that the Tourism Ministry spent nearly $600,000 on six Facebook pages.

The pages, one of which is Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia, are used to promote tourism, and the ministry has said the money went toward everything from coding and flash programming to campaign management, according to the Malaysian Insider.

Still, many netizens feel that it was a misappropriation of funds in a country that still rife with corruption despite its aim to become an economic powerhouse by the year 2020.

In the words of one blogger, Fared Isa: "To think that the Tourism Ministry threw away RM1.8 million of taxpayers' money on something that is free, makes me want to throw up."

To prove how absurd the expenditure was, critics set up the satirical page, Curi-Curi Wang Malaysi — practically overnight ... for free. The page attracted 120,000 followers, at least three times the number the main Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia page, according to one blogger.

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