It has become a sort of Ramadan tradition to hear of scriptwriters, actors and directors clashing with censorship authorities over editing decisions allegedly made without their consent. But how much of these rumors are true? Are these rumors just a way to create a buzz around a specific serial in a season cluttered with programs?
Scripts of dramas produced outside the gates of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union have to be reviewed by the artistic classification committee. The finished productions have to pass through a screening committee, and finally, programs scheduled to air during the month of Ramadan are subjected to another evaluation by a special committee.
Last year, scriptwriter Mohamed El Gheit said that the way the censors edited the last episode of his series “Sarkhet Ontha (A Woman’s Scream) made for an incomprehensible finale and ruined the employed cinematic technique.
Revered scriptwriter Osama Anwar Okasha denied El Gheit’s claims, telling Daily News Egypt that El Gheit is always accusing the censorship of mistreating his work.
“Because of the huge number of programs being aired during Ramadan, the censorship doesn’t even have the time to review every show properly. There is no actual censorship, said Okasha. The censorship is actually “passive when it comes to Ramadan’s dramas, he added.
Okasha also said that a growing number of complaints by scriptwriters about censorship are much ado about nothing. “They are just trying to get publicity for their shows with these claims, he said.
Hamdy Dabash, who writes for the arts section in Al-Masry Al-Youm daily, disagrees with Okasha, saying that scriptwriters cannot afford to slander the censorship because that could “endanger their future work.
A recent online forum reported that there was drama in the backstage of “El Daly as the cast accused the censors of cutting crucial scenes. The forum cites the scene depicting the assassination of Anwar Sadat as the main reason for the feud between the two parties.
However, “El Daly Producer Mohamed Fawzy told Daily News Egypt that this is simply untrue, adding that the assassination scene were removed before it was sent to the censors.
An Egyptian newspaper reported earlier this week that Lamis Gaber, who penned last year’s hit series “King Farouk, is publishing a new book featuring the scenes that did not make the final cut.
Gaber told Daily News Egypt that those scenes were deleted by the producer, not the censorship, due to time constraints.
Yossry El Gendy, writer of “Naseem El-Roh (Breeze of the Soul) – currently airing on national television – told Daily News Egypt that censors are not as strict as they used to be.
“There is no point in trying to control the content of television series shown on Egyptian television since anything can be aired on satellite channels, he said.
Despite a flood of rumors about clashes between artists and censors, film critic Rafiq El Sabban said he has not noticed any significant censorship editing so far this season, adding that the censors edit programs in a way that does not interfere with the flow of the drama.
The fact that the infamous rape scene in last year’s hit series “Qadeyat Ra’i A’am (A Public Opinion Case) starring Youssra was aired unedited is proof of “the censorship’s wisdom and enlightenment.
A reporter in Al-Masry Al-Youm said that some of this year’s television programs are aired on Egyptian television without being reviewed by censorship, because of the popularity of their stars and the high viewership ratings they garner.
Chairwoman of the Directory of Censorship Mona El Soghayar refused to comment.