After a spate of verbal attacks on cinemas and actors in recent weeks, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met with a group of prominent artists and intellectuals in the Presidential Palace on Thursday to discuss the future of art and creativity in Egypt.
Media Minister Salah Abdel-Maksoud attended the meeting, along with artists including actors Adel Imam, Mohamed Sobhy, Madiha Yousry, Ashraf Abdel-Ghafour and Karim Abdel-Aziz; musicians Mohamed Mounir and Iman El-Bahr Darwish; and poet/writer Farouk Gweida.
A number of the artists invited, however, refused to attend the event.
Actress Samira Ahmed declined her invitation and called on all artists to boycott the meeting due to recent verbal attacks on actors and the cinema industry in general by Islamist forces.
"We organise conferences to seek solutions and reactions to stop these insults. Unfortunately, our syndicate does not support us, nor does it take strong stances – it only makes vague statements," she said. "Adel Imam, Noor El-Sherif, Hala Fakher and Elham Shahin have all been wronged, and we're waiting for more."
Ahmed said she would decline all such invitations until action was taken against everyone who had insulted artists. She also stressed that artists would attempt to shut down a television channel, which, she claimed, had recently offended actors.
Ahmed attended a meeting organised at the Actors Syndicate on Wednesday night, where actors voiced support for Shahin, who was recently criticised on television by prominent preacher Abdallah Badr.
Among other attendees of the Wednesday meeting were Yousra, Nelly Karim, Maaly Zayed and producer Mohamed El-Adl.
"Ezzat El-Alayly suggested we hold this conference to close the discussion on my case," Shahin said. "There is a court case filed by the Actors Syndicate, another filed by the Creativity Front, and a third filed by me and my colleagues against this preacher."
Artist Galal El-Sharkawy, for his part, expressed his shock over recent verbal attacks on the film industry.
"I never imagined we would be attacked in such an organised and vicious way, starting with the court case against Adel Imam for defaming religion, to the case against Wahid Hamed, then the vicious attack on our colleagues Elham Shahin, Hala Fakher, Samah Anwar, Farouk El Fishawy, Inas El-Deghedy and Noor El Sherif," he said.
"I'm going to meet with the president tomorrow and confront him with all these negative situations," El-Sharkawy added.