Egyptian actress accused of ‘inciting debauchery’ over film festival dress, faces 5 years in prison

The Egyptian actress Rania Youssef is facing five years in prison over accusations that she “incited debauchery” by wearing a revealing dress on the red carpet at the Cairo Film Festival last week.

According to the BBC, Youssef, 44, is due to appear in court after a case was filed against her by two lawyers, Amro Abdelsalam and Samir Sabri. The dress at the heart of the controversy was sheer and revealed most of Youssef’s legs. Sabri claimed the outfit “did not meet societal values, traditions and morals and therefore undermined the reputation of the festival and the reputation of Egyptian women in particular.” A video of Youssef posing for cameras on the red carpet and twirling to show all sides of the controversial dress has gone viral on Twitter, racking up more than 1 million views and counting and sparking a fierce debate. Some called for the actress to be put on trial.

By Western standards, the gown seems rather tame.

Writing on Twitter, Youssef apologized, saying that she had “probably miscalculated” in her choice of wardrobe for the event.

“It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realize it would spark so much anger,” she said in the statement, according to the BBC. “I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society.”

Youssef’s trial is scheduled to begin on January 12. She is the most recent female pop culture figure to be put on trial for a perceived crime against morality in Egypt. Almost exactly one year ago, pop singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab was put on trial and faced as much as three years in prison for a joke she told onstage about the Nile River. She ended up being sentenced to six months in prison, but, as The New York Times notes, the conviction was thrown out after she appealed the decision.

Read the full story at the BBC.


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