Egypt: Censorship Authority stirs controversy over attempted film bans

3 December 2015

tamer abdel moneim
The Egyptian Censorship Authority has reversed its decision to completely reject the production of a comedy film by actor and screenwriter Tamer Abdel Moneim, El Watan News reported on 4 November 2015.

The comedy, which is meant to be a sequel to Abdel Moneim’s 2003 film ‘Al-Meshakhasaty’ (The Master of Disguise), is now a go as he and the Censorship Authority have reached an agreement after “long and tiresome” discussions.

“I will have to change the names of the main characters in the movie and I testified to do so,” Abdel Moneim said.

Apart from changing the names, Abdel Moneim will have to make several changes to the script and scenario, but was granted final shooting approval nonetheless and filming will begin as soon as contracts with actors are signed.

Originally, the Censorship Authority’s decision was that the film production was “fully rejected” and that there would be no opportunities to submit even a modified script, Al-Akhbar reported on 21 October 2015.

The chairman of the censorship body Abdel Sattar Fathy said the movie “viciously attacks” leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood – including Mohamed Morsi, Mohammed Badie and Khairat Al-Shater – who are all currently on trial.

Abdel Moneim stated at that time that he would retire from the acting and movie production profession over the original censorship position. The actor was the Culture Ministry’s former head of cinema and has strong links to former president Hosni Mubarak as his father was Mubarak’s press secretary and his wife’s father is Mubarak’s lawyer.

Authority tries to ban documentary
The ban on Abdel Moneim’s movie follows another recent effort in October 2015 by the Censorship Authority to stop Hollywood-star Morgan Freeman and National Geographic from filming their upcoming documentary ‘The Story of God,’ which explores religions and religious rituals, reported news website Ahram Online.

The Censorship Authority contacted the National Security Agency to determine the legal status of the production crew to be in Cairo as Fathy said “the film is related to our national security.”

“The problem isn’t with Freeman, but rather that service agencies [facilitating filming in Cairo] should have applied for a filming permit, especially given that the film includes content related to Egypt’s image, and also given that the film will be translated into 42 languages, and screened in a number of foreign countries,” Fathy said.

Fathy went on to explain that protecting Egypt’s image is amongst his responsibilities.

The head of the State Information Service Salah El-Din Abd El-Sadek said that everything was in order with the crew and that they had received a permit four months prior. He also stressed this his agency is the only agency responsible for issuing permits for documentaries, while the Censorship Authority is only responsible for issuing permits for fictional films.

The documentary continued with its production schedule in various areas of Egypt and is scheduled to air some time in 2016.

Photo: Tamer Abdel Moneim. Courtesy of El Watan News




» – 5 November 2015:
Censorship Authority agrees on scenario for Tamer Abdel Moneim’s Al-Meshakhasaty 2

» El Watan News – 4 November 2015:
Tamer Abdel Moneim: Authority approved the scenario of the film Al-Meshakhasaty 2

» Ahram Online – 21 October 2015:
Egypt’s Censorship Authority questions Morgan Freeman’s presence in Egypt

» Cairo Scene – 21 October 2015:
Morgan Freeman documentary to get shut down by Egyptian government?

» Al-Akhbar – 21 October 2015:
Actor of Al-Meshakhasaty Movie: The Censorship Body cares about Muslim Brotherhood

» – 17 October 2015:
The reasons behind rejection of the movie “Al Meshakhasaty2” by the Egyptian Censorship Body

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