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Egyptian actress facing trial over revealing dress 'did not mean to offend' Open in fullscreen

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Egyptian actress facing trial over revealing dress 'did not mean to offend'

Rania Youssef wore the dress to the closing ceremony of a Cairo film festival [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2018

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Actress Rania Youssef has said that she did not mean to offend by wearing a revealing dress at an awards ceremony, which could lead to her being imprisoned.

An Egyptian actress who faces prison after wearing a revealing dress has said she did not mean to offend anyone, following widespread outcry over the country's opaque indeceny laws.

In a Facebook statement late on Saturday, Rania Youssef said she may have misjudged the reaction to the dress and been "influenced" by fashion experts.

Youssef is due in court on 12 January on public indecency charges. She wore the dress Thursday for the closing ceremony of a Cairo film festival.

Images of her were widely shared on social media, prompting a group of lawyers to file a complaint that was taken up by the chief prosecutor.

Youssef, who is in her 40s, faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Egypt has retained vestiges of secularism through decades of growing religious conservatism, although much of the 100 million population remains relatively conservative.

Although President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi portrays himself as a champion of secularism after snatching power from the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, his regime has continued to enforce strict conservative social policies.

Debates over women's clothing have sparked huge controversy in Egypt, where some 60 percent of women in have said they had been victims of some form of sexual harassment during their lifetimes, according to a 2017 report from the UN Women and Promundo.

Three-quarters of men and 84 percent of women polled said that women who "dress provocatively deserve to be harassed".

Earlier this year, a Lebanese woman was jailed after slamming the culture of harrassment in the country.

Lebanese pop singer Haifa Wehbe has also been called in for interrogation after wearing shorts at a pop concert.

Egptian singer Shyma has been among other signers jailed for producing racy videos.

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