The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounced the Red Sea governorate’s Safaga police department and the civil defence department on Monday for preventing a theatrical performance to take place in Safaga’s cultural palace last week. According to ANHRI the play, titled Journey of the Egyptian Handala, was shut down because it was critical of the Muslim Brotherhood and the management of the affairs of the country.
The title of the play alludes to the political cartoon drawn by the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali in 1969. The cartoon is a depiction of a 10-year-old boy and is often used as a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
Tamer Mowafy, the ANHRI director of research, said the play was meant to be performed in the theatre but the police and Ministry of Culture personnel in the governorate cancelled the show. “They said the theatre does not fit the right fire safety standards but this is not rational because it is an open air theatre and there are different safety standards for closed in and open air theatres,” Mowafy said.
“The ruling authorities are always interested in seeming to respect freedom of expression and human rights,” ANHRI said, adding that the efforts are an attempt to justify their actions without there being any practices or political will proving their intention to respect freedoms.
ANHRI said it is alarmed over the continuous surveillance of artistic and creative works prior to their completion, confirming the government’s intention to continue the police state in Egypt since President Mohamed Morsi came to power.
“The state still ignores its international obligation towards human rights and freedoms,” ANHRI said, adding that the government disregards international legislation. Rather than addressing the issue with an open mind and holding political discussions to find ways to overcome the failure of the management of the country’s affairs, ANHRI said the government turns to security solutions.