By Nayera Yasser
Ever since the early silent films in the late 19th century, Egyptians have grown a special fondness for films and cinema. By the time national television was created in the 1960s, Egypt was already a notable nation on the international artistic map.
With that being said, both the Egyptian cinema and drama industries have always suffered from one terrifying scissor – national censorship. Ever since their inception, each and every creative work has been evaluated by a concrete set of laws and guidelines that provided the liberty of altering, cutting and even refusing the overall content.
During the past year, and in light of a new era, Egyptian censorship managed to surprise the audience and film makers on several consecutive occasions. For decades, the country’s censors banned films for either their sexual or political content. The local film “Halawet Rouh” and American film “Noah” were both created and banned at approximately the same time as each other.
The censors said that, while “Halawet Rouh” (Inner Beauty) had sexual content that did not match Egyptian traditions, “Noah” had religious references that contradict with Islamic heritage.
After much deliberation and a renowned lawsuit by the makers of “Halawet Rouh”, “Noah” was banned permanently, while “Halawet Rouh” found its way to national film theatres. Such decisions only stirred public opinion, which refused the outdated standards of censorship in Egypt.
“Starting from April, there will be no more censorship on films, whether local or foreign, instead there will be age rating,” said Abd El-Sattar Fathy, president of censorship, during a TV interview with Mona Salman on “Egypt in A Day” programme, in February 2015.
The interview went viral for the unexpected revelation, especially right after banning yet another American film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. According to Fathy, the film was reviewed by him as well as history experts, and they collectively refused it for its racist content.
Ever since this interview, Fathy has not taken part in any TV appearance, nor has he made any official comments. Daily News Egypt visited the organisation to discuss Fathy’s latest announcement that should have been activated by now.
Nonetheless, the staff, who share a modest office, refused to make any comments, preferring to shift the matter to any of their colleagues. As for the president’s office manager, he did not offer any further help, as he declared that he cannot make any comments and that the entity is set to have a spokesperson in about 10 days.
Hamza Namira’s latest musical album has also been banned from national TV and radio due to its political views. Walking the same line, the annual book fair faced several restrictions regarding the books’ genres as political-religion books were obscured.
With Egypt’s highest season of TV series and films rapidly approaching by the end of this month, the censorship’s newest rule will be automatically put to test.