Prime Minister bans controversial Egyptian film

CAIRO: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a decision Wednesday to ban the film “Halawit Rouh” (Sweetness of Spirit), which sparked controversy over its depiction of children and sexuality, reported Youm7.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab released a decision Wednesday to ban the film after he met with members of the Chamber of Cinema Industry, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

However, some have criticized the decision of the Prime Minister, including Free Egyptians Party spokesperson Shehab Wagih, who said that the people should be allowed to judge the film on their own, Youm7 reported.

The film, which has been compared to the Italian film Malena, is about a woman named Rouh (Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe), who elicits desire in everyone surrounding her. Critics pointed out the desire also extends to children in the film.

The movie has raised controversy among journalists and experts on Twitter and different social networks over its depiction of children and sexual abuse.

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights Hany Helal told The Cairo Post on Sunday that the movie represents a manifestation of the violation of children’s rights. He said such a movie could lead to an increase in sexual harassment and the rape of children, as it focuses on their sexuality.

Meanwhile, Hanan Shuman, a film critic, said that the governmental decision is not the accurate solution for the low quality of recent Egyptian films, ONA news reported.

Further, journalist Khaled Montaser questioned whether Mahlab is entitled to ban screening films or plays, adding that the General Organization for Artworks Control is the only eligible authority that can ban movies.

Somia Al-Alfy, a children’s rights expert, said that the film exposes children to “moral dangers” by including scenes that involve them in situations that violate the Child’s Law, Al-Shorouk reported.

In response to a debate that erupted on social media about the film, the film’s producer Mohamed Al-Sobky told Al-Masry Al-Youm the decision to ban the film “is a shame for the Egyptian cinema.”

Sobky added, “What has been said about the film are rumors, and this decision will cost me a loss of 15 million EGP.”

Ali el-Gendy, a scriptwriter for the film said, “The movie did not include any sexual abuse for children,” in a phone call to Sada al-Balad TV channel.

Gendy asked children’s rights experts to watch the film before judging it.

Mahlab has decided to refer the film to the General Organization for Artworks Control to make its final decision, Al-Shorouk reported.

Additional reporting by Muhammad Ghamrawy and Alaa Essam.

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