On 1 November 2012, Egypt’s Ministry of Culture censored a scene with a song in a popular new film, after Islamists claimed the song insulted Islam, reported Egypt Independent and Al Bawaba.
The film ‘Abdu Mouta’ which is playing in cinemas across Egypt, recorded the highest one-day revenue in the history of Egyptian cinema, making LE 2.5 million (409,668 US dollars) on the first day of Eid al-Adha, reported the Egypt Independent.
But a belly dancer starring in the film stirred a wave of anger among Shiites in Egypt because she dances to a song in which the names of Prophet Mohammed’s daughter, Fatima, and his grandsons, Hassan and Hussein, are mentioned. All three figures are revered in the Sufi and Shia sects of Islam.
Dar al-Ifta, the government’s principal Islamic legal institution for issuing fatwas, said in a detailed statement on 3 November 2012 that it recommended deleting the scene to “show more respect to members of the Prophet’s household.”
According to Egypt Independent, such a statement “offered religious credibility to the Culture Ministry’s decision.”
Censorship Director Abdel Sattar Fathy will watch the film to make sure the offending part of the song is cut out artistically, and write a report of it.
Bahaa Anwar Mohamed, a leader in the Ghad al-Thawra Party and a prominent Shiite, said he would file a lawsuit demanding the movie be removed from cinemas completely. He was quoted by Egypt’s al-Sabah newspaper as saying that the country’s Shiites would file a complaint to the general prosecutor against the film, demanding to ban it because it insults prominent Islamic figures.
Dina, the belly dancer, denied her performance in the movie was meant to offend Islamic prominent figures.
No official statistics are available regarding the number of Shiites in Egypt, but estimates put their population at less than one percent of the approximate 85 million population.
Egypt Independent – 2 November 2012:
Song in popular film censored for allegedly insulting Islam
Egypt Independent – 3 November 2012:
Dar al-Ifta supports deletion of dancing scene from film
Al Bawaba – 4 November 2012:
‘Blasphemous’ belly dance proves a shake too far for Egypt’s Shiites