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Video arsonists sentenced

14 hit with prison terms of 5-15 yrs.

CAIRO — A Cairo court has handed down long terms at hard labor to 14 Islamic militants who were convicted of setting fire to two video shops and a cinema billboard company.

Those convicted, all men between ages 20 and 26, were said to be members of the outlawed “Gamaa el Islamiya” (“the Islamic Grouping”) which views cinema as “haram” (forbidden by Islamic scripture). The grouping is widely believed to receive financial backing from fundamentalist religious forces in oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Poor area

The two vid shops were located in a poor district of Cairo, and their owners could not afford the security guards that patrol glitzier video stores in the city’s more affluent neighborhoods.

The company that was likewise torched produces huge billboard-sized movie teasers that appear outside many Cairo cinemas. The signs often portray scantily clad Egyptian actresses in come-hither poses.

The 14 received sentences ranging from between five and 15 years.

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