Sabah Distribution Company has decided not to screen the Egyptian film Mawlana in Lebanese cinemas over the Beirut censorship authority’s objection over 12 minutes in the film.
The company’s decision was made “in defense of creative and cultural freedom, and in respect for the company’s history and the rights of the filmmakers,” according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
Beirut’s censorship authority had required that 12 minutes be removed from the film before it can be screened, arguing that the scenes in question could incite sectarian strife and provoke conflict between different religions.
Mawlana, written by Egyptian journalist and editor in-chief of Al-Tahrir newspaper Ibrahim Eissa, tackles the phenomenon of sheikhs who have been appearing on television in recent years, exploring the hidden world of sheikhs and their ties with security institutions, politicians and businessmen.
The film aims to show how religion is misused in politics.
Mawlana’s director Magdy Ahmed Ali has signed a petition presented by Sabah Distribution Company to the censorship authority asking it to reconsider its decision, and either accept the film as it is or reject it entirely, explaining that the film seeks to achieve the opposite of what it is being accused of.
Sabah’s CEO stated that their decision and stance, despite resulting in major financial losses, will serve to protect the upcoming generation of filmmakers and hopefully foster a safe environment for films and creative works to ensure that they are free of any censorship.
Mawlana stars Amr Saad, Dorra Zarrouk and Ahmed Magdy, and looks into the lives of preachers in Egypt by portraying the story of one such sheikh. The film was selected for the Dubai International Film Festival's Muhr features category.
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