Egypt's Islamist-dominated Religious Affairs Committee is considering a new film censorship law. It will be aimed at repressing local
producers, distributors of film content deemed harmful to society .
According to committee head Sayed Askar, the law, if passed, would not differentiate between old and new films, and would be applied to any sexually-explicit content deemed harmful to society. The proposed legislation, he clarified, would
penalise the producers and distributors of such content, and not actors.
When asked whether the law would only prohibit nudity or would also extend to hugs and kisses on film, Askar declined to provide details but stressed that the law would have the last word regarding censorship issues.
Article 1 of the bill reportedly calls for the establishment of an independent, 15-member Supreme Council for Audio and Visual Broadcasts. Council members would be appointed by the prime minister and include both Muslim and Christian
The law's second article, meanwhile, lays down the council's responsibilities and authorities. It also lists proscribed content, including scenes of a sexual nature, both verbal and visual; scenes depicting the use of drugs, alcohol or gambling;
and scenes deemed insulting to particular professions, races, genders or religions.
Egypt's culture ministry censored a song in a popular new film, Abdu Mouta, which hit the box office last week, after Islamist groups filed
lawsuits against its producer, claiming the song insulted Islam.
A belly dancer starring in the film had stirred a wave of anger among Shiites in Egypt as she dances to a song mentioning the religious character Fatima, daughter of Mohammed and his grandsons, Hassan and Hussein. All three figures are revered
in the Sufi and Shia sects of Islam.
Egypt Independent reported that Censorship Director Abdel Sattar Fathy will watch the film to make sure the offending part of the song is cut out artistically, and write a report of it, said the ministry. The reported also noted that it
was film producer Ahmed al-Sobky who had requested the censorship.
Bahaa Anwar Mohamed, a leader in the Ghad al-Thawra Party and a prominent Shiite, said he would file a lawsuit calling for banning the movie to screen in theaters.
Egypt's national airline said it will analyse its onboard movies to make sure they respect Egyptian values and customs , following a
complaint by a senior Muslim Brotherhood member who 'took offence' at a film screened during one of its flights.
EgyptAir said the film had been turned off at the request of Ahmed Fahmy, the speaker of Egypt's upper house of parliament and a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood's 'Freedom' and 'Justice' Party. In a statement, EgyptAir said he had expressed
reservations about one of the scenes in the movie.
Local media identified the film as Arees Mama, or Mother's Suitor , a decades-old movie starring the Egyptian actress Nelly.
The case is likely to fuel concerns about the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohamed Mursi to power in an election last year, could use its new position of power to curb freedom of expression.