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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.
Egypt twitter mickey minnie mouse 28 06 11Enlarge
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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