Egyptian actress Rania Youssef’s revealing sheer gown worn on the Cairo International Film Festival red carpet gained more attention than she expected. In fact, her outfit choice almost landed her in jail.
The actress, 44, was sued by three Egyptian lawyers over her red carpet dress claiming that the dress and its completely sheer skirt displayed public obscenity and created “incitement to debauchery,” according to the New York Times.
One of the lawyers who filed the suit, Samir Sabri, told AFP 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.”
The trial was set for January and if convicted, she could have faced five years in prison. But on Monday, the lawyers released a statement to Arabic outlet El Watan News, announcing that they were withdrawing the charges.
The statement, obtained by the Huffington Post, reads:
“First, when we took legal action against the artist Rania Youssef, this was not for the purpose of personal gains or benefits, nor was it intended to deprive her person, but was out of concern for public order and ethics and sensing the danger facing the Egyptian society as a result of that incident, committed by a popular public figure with an audience that will try to imitate them, which may lead to the spread of chaos and the violation of standards of values and ethics.
Second, we affirm our full respect and appreciation for the art and the artists, and that the legal procedures have been taken against a certain incident which we see surpasses the limits of freedom and social custom and contradicts the provisions of the law (which regulates the relationship of the individual to society) and constitutes a crime punishable by law if it is deliberately committed. And the freedom of thought, creativity, opinion, expression and other freedoms compatible with the international conventions and conventions stipulated in the Egyptian Constitution, but against all forms and forms of vulgarity.
Third, the artist Rania Youssef presented an apology to the Egyptian family and society for this incident and its affirmation that it was not intentional, that it was placed in circumstances beyond its control and that the behavior was wrong and unintentional. We decided to waive the legal measures taken against it.
Finally, we call upon all public figures from artists and others to take into account their behavior and behavior as role models and as the highest ideals for many young men and women in Egypt.”
The apology mentioned was a message Youssef shared on social media. “I probably miscalculated when I chose to wear this dress,” she wrote on Instagram. “It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realize it would spark so much anger…I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society.”
According to the Times, Youssef’s case is not too unusual for celebrities. Under the authoritarian rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, celebrities have been targeted for outfits and behavior that goes against public morals. One example cites singer Laila Amer, who was detained in January for making suggestive gestures in a music video.
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