The Muslim Brotherhood does not represent a threat to freedom of expression, veteran actor Omar Sharif declared.
Sharif, 74, an Egyptian Christian who converted to Islam in adulthood, has been the subject of threats by Islamist groups for his recent appearance in an Italian biblical TV epic playing St Peter. "I have know them for a long time and I remember that some members of the organizations in the 1950s were like me passionate about the avant garde in cinema and theatre" he said.
The Brotherhood, which is officially banned but tolerated, secured 88 out of 454 seats in last year’s general election, running as independent, and is now the largest opposition force in parliament.
"The Muslim Brotherhood does not threaten artistic freedom and I don’t think that in the areas of innovation and art there is anything to fear from their strong presence in parliament" Sharif said.
These accusations are leveled against the movement by people who are ignorant of their ideology and seek to denigrate them, Sharif said, adding that in his view "their victory at the last parliamentary elections is not a negative thing."
Born Michael Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria in 1932, he later converted to Islam and took the name Omar el-Sharif before marrying Egyptian star Faten Hamama in 1955.
He shot to international stardom in the classic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and with the title role of Doctor Zhivago (1965).
Sharif is currently starring in another biblical epic charting the life of the Old Testament figure Esther - in his first cinema reunion with Peter O’Toole since they starred in "Lawrence of Arabia."
Omar EL Sherif: MB Is Not A Threat To Artistic Freedom