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Islamist-backed film banned in Egypt

Producers condemn ‘oppressive’ embargo, vow to show the film

Gulf News

Cairo: Egypt’s censors have banned the screening of a feature film produced by a Muslim Brotherhood-linked company, drawing condemnation from its makers.

Report was banned from hitting the local theatres this week due to what the chief censor said was a violation of relevant regulations.

“The film project was not presented to the Censorship Board in the first place,” said Abdul Sattar Fat’hi, the head of the Artistic Variety Authority, which censors films in Egypt. “Its producers followed illegal ways to make and screen the film as though they were living in another country,” he told the independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm.

The film is produced by the recently created Renaissance Company, which includes shareholders from the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

“This film does not seek to spread a certain ideological or political idea,” said Mohammad Al Najar, a Brotherhood member and a co-producer of Report. “We are a group of young people, some of them belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, who decided to do a work based on their beliefs,” he added.

The company said the censorship regulations do not apply to Report, arguing that the film should be categorised as an independent work produced by a group of individuals.

“We will not tolerate oppression and prejudice, and we will show it in Egypt,” said the producers in a statement on Monday. “Our rights are based on unequivocal constitutional rules and international conventions.”

They added that they are mulling how to beat the ban. “We are studying whether to show the film in the streets or on satellite TV stations. We will not be intimidated by any threat or oppression.” A Brotherhood official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the ban on the film a “flagrant assault on freedom of creativity”.

A 2011 revolt, which toppled former strongman Hosni Mubarak, has propelled Islamists to power in Egypt amid fears from the country’s liberals and Christian minority. The Brotherhood is widely accused of seeking to change Egypt’s cultural identity.