Egyptian actress could go to jail for wearing 'revealing' dress at Cairo Film Festival

Egyptian actress could go to jail for wearing 'revealing' dress at Cairo Film Festival

Egyptian actress, Rania Youssef, is to face trial for appearing at Cairo Film Festival wearing a dress that was deemed too "revealing".

Youssef was charged with committing an obscene act in public, after two lawyers, Amro Abdelsalam and Samir Sabri - who are known for taking celebrities to court - made a complaint to the country's chief prosecutor.

The 44-year-old attended Cairo Film Festival on Thursday wearing a black leotard covered by a see-through overdress with criss-cross detailing and a large belt.

Sabri has since told AFP that he believes 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 actress - who the lawyers said had incited "debauchery and temptation" and spread "vice in ways that violate established norms in Egyptian society" - is known for starring in a number of popular Egyptian television series.

The pictures of Youssef left social media divided. "This dress and design is called 'I forgot my trousers while going to be honoured," wrote one Twitter user, while another defended her, stating "This is just one of many examples why feminists in the west need to stop being silent about women issues in the global south."

Youssef will be tried on January 12 in a court in Cairo, where she faces up to five years if convicted.

In a social media post, the 44-year-old asserted that she would not have worn the dress if she had known it would cause such furore.

Opening by saying that she had "probably miscalculated", Youssef said;

"It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realise it would spark so much anger. I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society."

Youssef's arrest is the latest in a string of Egyptians being detained for falling foul of the country's religious policies.

Egypt is a mostly conservative country with a Muslim majority. While the Arab country has fostered some pockets of secularism in the five years since the military ousted Islamist President, Mohamed Morsi - Youssef's case highlights the fact that Islamic fundamentalism remains a pervasive force.

Last year, an Egyptian court sentenced little-known singer, Shyma (Shaimaa Ahmed), to two years in jail for inciting debauchery, after she appeared in a music video in her underwear, suggestively eating a banana.

Youssef had just finishing filming the film Aswar Aaliya - which translates as High Fences - where she played a famous artist who is sent to prison.

The actress wasn't the only person to be criticised for her sartorial choices at the Cairo Film Festival, however. The Egyptian Actors' Syndicate also took offence at "the appearance of some of the guests", which it said "undermined the festival and the union".