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Israel: Director and actresses receive death threats over feminist film

26 June 2017
Palestinian film director and activist Maysaloun Hamoud has received a fatwa against her, as well as multiple death threats over her film ‘Bar Bahar’.
Photo: Section of movie poster

 

Palestinian film director and activist Maysaloun Hamoud has received a fatwa against her, as well as multiple death threats, which the actresses in her film ‘Bar Bahar’ (In Between) also received, due to it featuring taboo topics, such as drug and alcohol abuse and homosexuality, reported Telquel on 9 March 2017.

Hamoud confirmed that she and the three main actresses in the film – Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh and Shaden Kanboura – received death threats through social media.

The director explained that among the threats, there are those who said “whoever talks about Umm al-Fahm [a city in northern Israel near the West Bank border] digs his grave with his hand” and that her life is worth less than “a shot in the head or in the heart”, reported Middle East Online on 28 May 2017.

“I think one of the objectives of the film was to shake the system. It is part of my convictions and echoes my activism,” Hamoud told The Hollywood Reporter on 8 March 2017.

On 9 January 2017, the Higher Islamic Council issued a fatwa wherein they confirmed that “the film ‘Bar Bahar’ is harming Islam and Muslims and it was sinful because it can break the society, and those who have committed such acts must repent sincerely and must at the same time submit their apologies to the Arab community as a whole”.

On 29 May 2017, Freemuse reached out to the authority via their Facebook page and by phone, who denied the issuance of the fatwa, though it remains on their official website.


City bans film
The film was also banned by the city of Umm al-Fahm. In a statement published by Baldtna News on 8 January 2017, the city described the film as “a bad movie without the slightest element of truth”.

“We strongly reject and strongly denounce the so-called ‘Bar Bahar’ film, which directly offends Umm al-Fahm, its people in particular and our Palestinian society in general. We also call on our people in the city of Umm al-Fahm in particular and the Arab world in general, and all its factions and parties and movements, to reject this film and boycott it.”

The city’s ire stems from the fact that one of the main characters in the film is a religious woman from Umm al-Fahm. Many critics of Hamoud and her film, including the city’s mayor, admitted to never having seen the film, reported Al-Masdar on 9 January 2017.

The film tells the story of three young Palestinian women who move to Tel Aviv to seek emancipation and freedom, portraying a feminist message that questions notions of family and religion.

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