CAIRO: “New dangers threaten the Egyptian cinema industry, an NGO warned this week.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) says that “hesba cases – cases filed by private individuals – constitute a threat to freedom of expression.
ANHRI says in the statement released on Tuesday that three such cases have been filed against Khaled Youssef’s film “Dokkan Shehata (Shehata’s Shop).
The film, which stars Lebanese singer Haifa Wahby, is a love story with mild sexual content and some political references.
The case brought by the Sufi Doctrines Authority alleges that a scene involving Wahby and members of a Sufi order denigrates Sufism, while a private lawyer claims in a separate case that another scene involving Wahby denigrates certain Muslim Imams.
A group of Al-Azhar scholars is making the same claim and calling for the film to be banned.
According to ANHRI, negatives of another Egyptian film, “Awlad El-A’am (The Cousins) were seized at Cairo Airport (where they had just been flown in from South Africa) by the Egyptian Airport Authority and handed over to the arts censorship authority. ANHRI calls this an “unprecedented move .
The rights group maintains that the filmmakers have obtained the required licenses and approvals from the censorship authority.
“Despite the court acquittals of Saad Eddin Ibrahim in hesba cases filed against him, we still feel concerned about courts accepting these kind of cases, Hamdy El-Assiouty, ANRHI’s consultant to its Legal Aid Unit says in the statement.
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a political opponent of the ruling regime has recently been cleared of charges brought against him in a hesba case.
“Unfortunately, there are lawyers and Sheikhs who snipe creative art works, exploiting the imperfect legal structure which allows them to file such cases, while they have no direct interest but to gain fame, the statement continues.