Bad ‘Karma’? Egypt's Censorship Office Fails to Ban Popular Movie

Published June 14th, 2018 - 12:48 GMT
The movie will be screened in cinemas on first day of Eid el-Fitr.
The movie will be screened in cinemas on first day of Eid el-Fitr.

It only took few hours before the Egyptian director of “Karma” movie, Khaled Yousef, to announce that the censorship authorities reversed their decision to ban his movie screening from cinemas during Eid. Now the authorities have reversed their decision for a special screening.

“Karma” tackles highly-sensitive topics in the Egyptian community, including the use of power and corruption in addition to interfaith marriage between Muslims and Christians, and the changing of religion to get married.

On the ban decision, the Cinema Committee of the Supreme Council of Culture submitted a collective resignation in protest. They described it as  “unprecedented collapse in the climate of freedom of opinion and creativity at all levels and an insult to intellectuals, artists and Egyptians.”

Following a wave of criticism and anger, the ban withdrawal came a day before the movie first screening and three days before its official screening in cinemas.

While the actual reasons behind the ban are not clear yet, the General Authority for Censorship announced at first that the ban resulted of the filmmakers’ failure to obtain the necessary licenses for public screenings, however, the film team discharged the allegations saying they was obtained in April.

Some critics attributed the ban to the controversial topics introduced in the movie, some suggested the political hidden side presented and others said the main song of the movie might be the reason behind of its ban, as it includes ideas might be interpreted as opposed to the regime.

The ban announcement and its withdrawal outraged Egyptians after the movie was already approved by the censorship authorities raising concerns over the increased censorship in Egypt.

Jamal Sultan, a writer and editor-in-chief in an Egyptian newspaper tweeted the movie’s song lyrics suggesting it might be the reason behind its ban.

Translation: “Those are the lyrics of Karma song that resulted in its ban. They [officials] told him [Sisi]: It meant you.”

Marwa Mohammed tweeted:

Translation: “I don’t accept the “reality cinema” that reveals the negative side of the society. We all know those negativities, why do we share them with others?”

Translation: “It is a great movie and everyone's waiting for it. This is why the government is worried.”

Translation: “As long as this movie was banned then it will be great movie and Egyptians will love it.”

The director of the movie has always been controversial for addressing sensitive issues related to religion, corruption and freedoms in his movies, which put him in a difficult spot. Also he was one of the main figures of the Egyptian Revolution of Jan 25. However, he became recently a member of the parliament and one of the biggest supporters for the current Egyptian regime of Abdel Fattah Sisi

Translation: “The movie’s summary is that Khaled Yousef describes the effect of the stray he is living between the old days when he was a normal director who is searching for a movie to screen in festivals, and his life now among high-profile people and he wants to discuss the poor issues without angering anyone from the higher people.”

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