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Egyptian court suspends Islamic TV show over libel

An Egyptian court ordered a religious TV program hosted by a fiery preacher off the air on charges of libeling and defaming a well-known actress. It was one of three legal reverses suffered by Islamists on Saturday in cases dealing with the media.

The Cairo court ruled that the program "In The Scale" be suspended for 30 days following a lawsuit by Elham Chahine. A widely circulated video clip shows the program's host, Abdullah Badr, accusing Chahine of practicing "prostitution" and "teaching Egyptians how to strip naked, make love and commit adultery."

"Go ask God for forgiveness for your scandals," he says in the August interview. Chahine's lawyer said in court that the actress had been exposed to "insults, cursing and humiliation."

Last month, Badr was sentenced to a year in jail over the same charges. The program is aired on el-Hafiz TV, one of several networks associated with the ultraconservative Salafi Islamist movement.

In another case, a court dropped one of several lawsuits filed against popular satirist Bassem Youssef, known as Egypt's Jon Stewart. Youssef had been accused of "corrupting morals" and violating "religious principles" in his show, "The Program," in which he frequently mocks ultraconservative clerics and Islamists.

He still faces trial on March 9 on charges of insulting President Mohammed Morsi, a lawsuit that was leveled by lawyers associated with the Islamist group from which Morsi hails, the Muslim Brotherhood. This is one of many cases brought against media personalities who criticized the president. Morsi's office maintains that the president has nothing to do with the legal procedures against his critics.

In a separate court cast, a court ruled that Dream TV, a private liberal-leaning network that is sharply critical of the Brotherhood, could resume broadcasting. Egypt's Islamist minister of information Salah Abdel-Makksoud suspended it for an alleged zoning violation and broadcasting from outside an authorized area.

Neither Badr, Youssef nor Dream TV could immediately be reached for comment.