Egyptian actress Rania Youssef may be headed to prison for the next five years, all thanks to a controversial wardrobe decision.
The actress is set to go on trial next month after being charged with public obscenity for a skin-baring dress she wore to a film festival in Cairo. As the New York Post reported, the actress wore a sheer dress that showed off the entirety of her bare legs, and the outfit apparently ran afoul of the country’s strict laws regarding public appearances for women.
As the report noted, Egypt has recently moved toward a more secular society but still has deep ties to the Muslim fundamentalism that ruled the country for decades.
“Youssef’s case serves as a reminder that Islamic fundamentalism continues to have a voice five years after an Islamist president was ousted by the military amid mass protests against his rule,” the report noted.
As News.com.au reported, the lawsuits against Youssef was filed by lawyer Amro Abdelsalam and Samir Sabri, who has gained a reputation for taking celebrities to court. In recent years, pop stars and others have faced charges for indecency for racy videos and appearances, and some even went to jail. Many Egyptians had taken to social media to complain about Youssef’s skin-baring dress, which they said violates strict laws against public indecency.
Even the Egyptian Actors’ Syndicate seemed to side against Youssef, releasing a statement decrying some of the dress of the people who attended the film festival in Cairo.
“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.
Youssef ultimately took to Twitter to apologize for anyone who had been offended by her dress.
“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 wrote. “I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society.”
But the charges Rania Youssef faces for the see-through dress have also rallied many people across the world to her defense, with a number of individuals and organizations calling on Egypt to drop the charges and allow the actress to go free.
If convicted of public indecency, Rania Youssef faces up to five years in prison.