Middle East Censorship News

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  Moralist Preacher...

Lebanese film censor bans the Egyptian film Mawlana


Link Here 26th March 2017
Poster Mawlana 2016 Magdy Ahmed Aly Mawlana is a 2016 Egypt mystery drama by Magdy Ahmed Aly.
Starring Amr Saad, Dorra Zarrouk and Ahmed Magdy. IMDb

A seemingly traditional journey of a young sheikh in a governmental mosque who moves from leading prayers to becoming a TV celebrity issuing "fatwas" that are accepted by millions who have become fans of his as a result of his courage and his attempts to deviate from the usual religious rhetoric in a society heavily influenced by fundamentalism. The TV spotlight only shows his eloquent yet sarcastic answers he gives to the callers in a preset scenario, while in the dark and cloudy space around him, bloody struggles for power are raging, struggles he had always tried to avoid.

The organizers of Beirut Cinema Days are inviting everyone to join them in speaking up against censorship in Lebanon. They have organised a protest and discussion panel saying:

We the organizers of Ayam Beirut Al Cinema'iya refuse to accept the censorship of creative art in all its forms and invite you to join us in protest.

During the 9th edition of Ayam Beirut Al Cinema'iya the censor was stricter than in any previous year and did not grant screening permissions for two films Beit El Baher (The Beach House) and Mawlana (The Preacher).

In the statement the organizers also note that the censor asked many other filmmakers participating in the festival to edit out parts of their films.

The Egyptian political thriller Mawlana revolves around a Sheikh who becomes a TV celebrity issuing fatwas to TV audiences across Egypt. The film highlights the issue of close ties between the state and religious institutions. Mawlana is directed by Magdy Ahmed Ali and based on journalist Ibrahim Eissa's novel of the same name.

Upon its release in Egypt, the film sparked controversy but was given a release permit and went on to become a box office hit. In Lebanon, however, the general security censorship board banned the film after it caused a stir among religious authorities in the country. They refused to permit its screening at Ayam Beirut Al Cinema'iya.

Beit El Baher by Roy Dib revolves around Rayya and a group of her friends who reunite for the first time in years at her beach house in the South of Lebanon. Over a casual dinner the characters feast on the building blocks of their personal and communal identities, and recount stories of their past.

In a statement posted on the film's Facebook page, Dib says there wasn't a specific scene or phrase in the film that the censor board had a problem with, they simply notified us that the entire film annoyed them. Even though the film hasn't received an official ban, it wasn't given a screening permit in time for the festival.

In recent months, films including Mounia Akl's short Submarine and Karl Haddad's My name Is have been banned.

 

  The wrong kind of 'free speech'...

Turkish magazine closed down over cartoon deemed offensive


Link Here 18th February 2017
girgir banned cartoonThe publisher of one of Turkey's most prominent cartoon magazines  shut down the weekly and fired all its staff over a cartoon of Moses it deemed to be offensive. The publisher sad in a statement:

The decision has been taken for the magazine to be closed and all the staff laid off because of the distasteful cartoon.

The cartoon has disturbed society and disturbed us as a publishing company

Girgir had published in its latest edition a cartoon showing the bearded Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, with his companions complaining and using strong language. Presumably for reasons of censorship and political correctness, the cartoon remains untranslated.

The publishers blamed the cartoon on a deliberate attempt to put the company in a difficult situation, and said it would inform prosecutors of which employees were behind it.

Turkey's president Erdogan weighed in with a reminder that 'free speech'  only applies to things he agrees with. His spokesman tweeted that:

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or humor. This is immoral and a hate crime.

 

 Update: State censors claim more ground...

Israel's parliament passes first reading for a bill to censor Facebook and social media


Link Here 4th January 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Israel...Legislation proposed to let police block websites
Facebook logoA bill allowing Israeli courts to force social media companies to remove content defined as incitement has passed its first reading in parliament.

The Facebook bill sponsored by ministers Gilad Erdan and Ayelet Shaked would allow Israeli courts to immediately order content taken down if it is deemed to pose a public, personal or state security risk and constitutes a criminal offense.

Facebook adheres to its own removal policy when it comes to online content and freedom of speech issues and has generally not removed as much as state censors would like.

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler of the Israel Democracy Institute has criticized the Facebook bill as too broad. She commented that the bill will not solve the problem and will hurt freedom of expression for all.