An Egyptian appeals court has overturned the conviction of one of the Arab world's most famous comedians, who had been sentenced to jail for insulting Islam in his movies.

Adel Imam had appealed a three-month jail sentence and a fine he received after an ultraconservative Islamist lawyer sued him for portraying Islamists in a bad light. On Wednesday, the court said the lawyer was not personally harmed by the movies and had no standing to sue.

Such suits aren't new to Egypt — and have often been ignored by courts. But many worry that, with the rising power of Islamists following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, such cases may be used to curb free expression.

Imam, 71, is known for movies ranging from romantic comedies to films tackling corruption and extremism.