Palestinian Intifada Dominates Egypt’s Arts and Entertainment Industry

Published September 26th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

Gihad walked confidently towards an Israeli checkpost, looked at a photographer working for an Egyptian TV network, and then blew himself up, killing a number of Israeli soldiers. 

This scene from the film Ashab Walla Business (Friends Or Business) constitutes, among other Egyptian performances, evidence of the impact of the Palestinian Inifada on the Egyptian entertainment industry and the art world in general, including films and songs. 

In the film Gaana Al Bayan Al Tali (We Have Received the Following Communiqué), Egyptian actor Mohammed Heneidi plays the role of a special envoy to the Palestinian lands who leaves the microphone to throw stones at the Israeli soldiers. 

Mohammed Al Adel from the Al Adel Group, which produced the film Ashab Wala Business (Friends or Business) told Agence France Presse, “there are incidents that impose themselves on the art. Tackling other issues in such cases is considered to demonstrate a lack of feeling for others.” 

The film screenings began at this summer, leaving the audience affected, sometimes moved to tears, by violent and tragic scenes. 

For its part, the Israeli embassy in Cairo has criticized the film and described it as anti-Semitic, which Adel denies.  

“We stick to the scenes of military targets, but not civilian targets, to underscore our opposition to killing innocent people and our advocacy of the right to struggle against [Israel's 34-year occupation of Palestinian land],” said Adel. 

Many Egyptian artists said that shooting the scene of the Israeli army killing Palestinian child Mohammed Al Durrah, 12, last September had negative effects on them.  

The pictures of the child in his father’s arms occupy an important space at all artistic ceremonies and festivals, particularly the Cairo international book fair last January. 

Durrah’s pictures have been exploited commercially, even appearing on tissues used by Egyptians to wipe their faces. 

The pictures were also used as background for a music video produced also by Al Adel Group, in which singers wore black outfits while performing Al Kuds A’edah (Jerusalem Is Coming Back). 

“We have been receiving, on daily basis, dozens of songs on the Intifada since its eruption on September 28, 2000 and the same thing is still happening despite the fact that one year has so far passed,” the head Egyptian censor, Madkour Thabet told AFP, adding that solidarity with the Palestinians permeated all aspects of Egyptian life these days. 

Thabet viewed the Israeli criticism of the song Ana Bakrah Israel (I Hate Israel), by the pop singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim, as groundless. 

“We prohibit everything that in liked with racism. Had the song title been An Bakrah Al Yahood (I Hate Jews), we would have prevented it immediately,” added Thabet, saying that the singer was free to oppose the Israeli war machine - 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (

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