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Middle East Censorship News

2014: Oct-Dec

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Updated: Egypt and Morocco Recommend...

The movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings

Link Here28th December 2014
Exodus: Gods and Kings is a 2014 UK / USA / Spain drama by Ridley Scott.
Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton and Ben Kingsley. Youtube link IMDb

Epic adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man's daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

Egypt has banned the Hollywood biblical epic movie Exodus: Gods and Kings for reasons of religious intolerance whilst citing 'historical inaccuracy'

The film relates how the religious character Moses helped Israelite slaves flee persecution in Egypt under the Pharaoh Ramses by parting the Red Sea to let them cross safely.

Culture Minister Gaber Asfour told AFP Ridley Scott's blockbuster was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that Moses and the Jews built the pyramids. Asfour claimed:

This totally contradicts proven historical facts. It is a Zionist film. It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that's why we have decided to ban it.

Mohammed Afifi, the head of the censorship committee, said he took issue with the scene showing the parting of the Red Sea in which Moses is seen holding a sword like a warrior, instead of a stick. Furthermore, he claimed, the parting of the Red Sea is explained in the movie as a tidal phenomenon rather than a divine miracle.

Morocco has also banned the film, despite it already having been approved by the state-run Moroccan Cinema Center. Hassan Belkady, who runs Cinema Rif in Casablanca, told media24 news website that he had been threatened with the closure of his business if he ignored the ban.

Update: UAE recommends Exodus

28th December 2014. See  article from

The United Arab Emirates became the latest country to ban the release of Exodus: Gods and Kings . A film censor from the National Media Council, Juma Obeid Al Leem, told Gulf News:

This movie is under our review and we found that there are many mistakes not only about Islam but other religions too. So, we will not release it in the UAE.



Turkey flirts with an oppressive foreign culture...

Turkish TV censor fines TV game show that had wives wathcing their husbands dance with other women

Link Here22nd December 2014
Turkey's TV censor has handed a record fine to a popular game show for a segment where husbands were filmed dancing with other women as their wives looked on.

The game show, I Don't Know, My Spouse Knows was fined 410,000 Turkish lira ($177,000, 145,000 euros) by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK). The censor claimed in its ruling that the episode was contrary to public morality and the Turkish family structure .

In the offending show the husbands were shown dancing with other women, said to be foreigners, while the horrified reactions of their wives was also shown in a split screen.

The four wives appeared aghast as they watched their husbands, who danced with little inhibition, with one asking a fellow contestant if the stunt was a joke. When it became clear it was not, their reactions were even more grave. One of the wives, Seval, said: I am going to kill him! When the husbands rejoined the main studio she wagged her finger and told her spouse: You are finished!

RTUK said the show, broadcast by the popular private channel Kanal D, had encouraged men to cheat on their wives and provided an environment to disturb the family peace. It added that women in the program had been reduced to sexual objects.



Update: Tough Times...

Turkish police raid newspaper and TV station

Link Here17th December 2014
Full story: Press Freedom in Turkey...Not so free press
Index on Censorship has condemned the recent raid against Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV as a blatant violation of media freedom. Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and has the responsibility to uphold the right to freedom of expression. Index calls for the immediate release of all detained media professionals. This is part of a worrying trend, as shown by the recent violations reported on Index's mapping project

On Sunday, December 14, Turkish police raided offices of the newspaper Zaman and of the television network Samanyolu TV. At least 27 people were detained including journalists, producers and directors of TV shows. Zaman is a major newspaper in Turkey with good English language coverage that has featured on Melon Farmers many times.

A large group of protesters gathered outside of Zaman's Istanbul offices, holding signs that read Free press cannot be silenced.

Zaman and Samanyolu TV have been singled out by Turkish President Erdogan for being part of what Erdogan calls a parallel structure affiliated with exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan has accused Gulen of being at the centre of plots to topple the government.



Update: Dangerous Blogging...

Iranian blogger sentenced to death for insulting a religious character

Link Here8th December 2014
A man in Iran has been sentenced to death for supposedly insulting the religious character, Mohammed on Facebook.

Soheil Arabi, a 30-year-old blogger, was convicted in August after admitting posting supposedly offensive material on eight Facebook pages, under different names.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Arabi now faces imminent execution by hanging after the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of the rights group, siad:

It is simply shocking that anyone should face the gallows simply because of Internet postings that are deemed to be crude, offensive, or insulting. Iran should urgently revise its penal code to eliminate provisions that criminalise peaceful free expression, especially when they punish its exercise with death.

An Arabic Facebook page to protest the decision has been set up, and now has more than 2,400 likes, but so far Iran is holding firm with the sentence.



Cartoon despot...

Cartoonists encouraged to draw caricatures of Turkish president who has a nasty habit of locking up cartoonists

Link Here25th October 2014
The cartoonist and author Martin Rowson has encouraged people around the world to draw caricatures of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an attempt to raise awareness of a perceived clampdown on Turkish cartoonists wishing to lampoon him .

Over a series of messages on Twitter, Rowson, a regular Guardian contributor, wrote:

President Erdogan of Turkey is seeking 10 year stretch for a Turkish cartoonist. Recently another Turkish cartoonist was heavily fined for drawing Erdogan as a cat.

Maybe, if it's safe, a whole pile of cartoonists round the world should tweet their cartoons of Erdogan to teach him some humility before God and us cartoonists. Otherwise he might give the very strong impression that he's a chippy narcissistic despot. The very idea! I'll file my # ErdoganCaricature tomorrow morning. Start scribbling, comrades!

True to his word, Rowson posted his own caricature of the Turkish president on Thursday morning, and encouraged others to do likewise - if safe to do so.



Government Theatre Censor...

Turkish theatre director resigns over government demands for censorship of play

Link Here19th October 2014
The resignation of the Turkish State Theater's (DT) Director Mustafa Kurt, following an alleged censorship debate concerning a play about Goethe, has sparked controversy over whether the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is forcing directors who are against a controversial bill on the proposed Turkey Arts Council (TUSAK) to quit their jobs.

Kurt resigned  just before the State Theater's premiere of the play Gunes Batarken Bile Buyuk (The Sun is Big Even at Sunset) .

A government committee had requested DT officials to remove certain lines featuring sexual or vulgar language. The ministry then ordered Kurt to postpone the premiere while it determined whether these parts had been removed. The DT's rejection of the administration's order allegedly led to Kurt's resignation.

If the proposed bill on TUSAK becomes law, the final word on all art-related projects in Turkey will lie with this council.



The spirit of Gezi Park...

11 documentary films withdrawn from major Turkish film festival over the censorship of one film containing an insult of the president

Link Here9th October 2014
The Antalya Golden Orange Festival is Turkey's most important film festival.

Eleven documentary films have withdrawn from the 51st Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, as debate over censorship continued. The films were scheduled to compete in the documentary category of the festival, a category that includes 15 films in total.

Reyan Tuvi's documentary Yeryu zu Askin Yu zu Oluncaya Dek ( Love Will Change the Earth) , had become the focus of censorship claims when it was removed from the festival's National Documentary Competition, on the grounds it violated the Turkish Penal Code on defamation of the president.

A compromise was reached and the film, which focuses on last year's Gezi protests, returned to the festival program, after Tuvi removed the translation of a Turkish swear word from the documentary's English subtitles. Presumable something along the lines of the president being called a cunt.

However, Tuvi has again withdrawn her documentary along with the other 11 films on Oct. 8. In a joint statement, the producers and directors of the documentaries said the crisis had been mishandled by the festival committee as it had failed to take responsibility, leading to disagreements.

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