Middle East

Lebanese satirist questioned over 'insulting Islam'

Supporters of Charbel Khalil carry banners saying "Je Suis Charbel" outside the judicial palace in Beirut, Lebanon (23 February 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption Supporters of Charbel Khalil gathered outside the judicial palace carrying banners reading "Je Suis Charbel"

A Lebanese satirist has appeared before a prosecutor in Beirut after being accused by the country's top Sunni religious authority of insulting Islam.

An image shared by Charbel Khalil on Twitter last week prompted a complaint.

It showed a woman wearing a short dress under a black robe, sitting on a bed-cover resembling Islamic State's flag.

Captioned "Sexual jihad under the Prophet's umbrella??", Mr Khalil said it was meant to shine a light on the harm being done to Islam by the group.

"The free judiciary has triumphed today," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

However, his case was referred by the prosecutor to an appeals court.

During his appearance before prosecutor Nada Asmar at the judicial palace, supporters of Mr Khalil gathered outside carrying banners reading "Je Suis Charbel".

The phrase "Je Suis Charlie" was used by demonstrators in Paris supporting freedom of speech following last month's deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Mr Khalil directs the programme, Basmat Watan (A Nation's Smiles).

In 2006, a sketch making fun of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah sparked protests by the Shia Islamist movement's supporters.

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