An Egyptian actress is set to face trial in January for wearing a see-through dress at the Cairo film festival this week that showed her legs, a judicial source said Saturday.
Rania Youssef appeared at the closing session Thursday of the Cairo International Film Festival wearing a revealing black lacy dress over a tight black body with her legs showing underneath.
This prompted two lawyers to lodge a suit against her accusing the actress of “inciting debauchery”, a charge that could land her in jail for up to five years if she is convicted, the source said.
The first lawsuit alleging obscenity was filed by lawyer Amro Abdelsalam and the second by Samir Sabri, another attorney known for taking celebrities to court.
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 dress Youssef wore at the closing session of the 40th edition of the Cairo Film Festival on Thursday night sparked widespread criticism on social media.
They Egyptian Actors’ Syndicate also weighed in, without naming Youssef or any other celebrity.
“The appearance of some of the festival’s guests did not agree with the traditions and values of the society, and this has undermined the festival and the union which is responsible for its members behaviour,” it said in a statement.
In a Facebook statement late Saturday, Rania Youssef says she may have misjudged the reaction to the dress and been influenced by fashion experts.
Youssef, who is a member of the union, later issued an “apology” on her official Twitter account to the “many (people) angered” by her appearance.
“I probably miscalculated when I chose to wear this dress. It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realise it would spark so much anger,” she said.
“I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society,” she added.
Egypt is a largely conservative society.
Earlier this year, prosecutors detained a female singer for four days for “incitement to debauchery” after an online video clip which includes sensual oriental dances and suggestive gestures went viral.
Last year another female pop singer was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges, also over a video deemed provocative. Her sentence was reduced to a year on appeal.