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Egypt's government pulls film starring Arab ‘sex symbol’, awaits review by censors

Film starring Egyptian/Lebanese diva Haifa Wahbe has grossed nearly LE1 million in its first week, but critics say it's porn masquerading as drama

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Apr 2014
Haifa
Snap shot from Halawet Rooh's trailer
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Egypt's interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb ordered on Wednesday that a recently released Egyptian film, Halawet Rooh, be withdrawn from movie theatres until it is re-evaluated by the country's censorship board, state-owned news agency MENA reported.
 
The decision comes after the for-adults-only film, released on 3 April, was hit with a wave of criticism accusing it of containing heavy sexual connotations that "violate the Egyptian moral code".
 
The film, which revolves around Rooh -- played by Egyptian/Lebanese diva Haifa Wahbe -- who becomes the object of desire of all the men in her working class neighbourhood while her husband is away, has also been accused by many of being a bad imitation of Giuseppe Tornatore’s widely-acclaimed Malena (2000) starring Italian actress Monica Bellucci.
 
A review published last week in the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm took aim at Halawet Rooh under the title of "How to Make an Egyptian Porno", which accused the film of unsuccessfully posing as drama while it was only concerned with "sexually arousing the audience".
 
The film has reportedly been lifted from Qatar as well.
 
According to the Egyptian cinema news website elcinema.com, Halawet Rooh has garnered over LE988,000 in just its first week at theatres.
 
It was also slammed by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM).
 
“The film includes language and scenes that negatively affects the morals of children,” read the NCCM's statement.
 
The movie's star Wahbe has frequently refuted the claims, however, affirming that such opinions will be proved wrong if people only watched the film.
 
In almost a week, the promotional song for the film carrying the same title and sung by one of Egypt’s most celebrated pop singers, Hakim, has exceeded 4 million views.
 
The film is directed by Sameh Abdel-Aziz and stars Bassem Samra and Mohamed Lotfy alongside Wahbe.
 
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