Mr Sawiris, who is outspoken in defence of secular values and often accused of being provocative, “retweeted” a cartoon in June showing Minnie wearing a black face-veil and Mickey in the traditional robe and beard of a Salafi follower.

The Muslim Brotherhood also expressed outrage, but it was a call by the Salafis of a boycott of Mr Sawiris companies, which include Egypt’s largest mobile phone operator, which gave the first indication of the strength of their following. Mr Sawiris apologised, but not before the phone operator lost hundreds of thousands of subscriptions.