Egypt court bans biopic series on Omar ibn Al-Khattab

Ahram Online , Monday 23 Dec 2019

The court said the ruling was based on a decision by Al-Azhar that ‘religious figures’ should not be depicted in any theatre, cinema or television work

State Council
Egypt's State Council (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s State Council Administrative Court has ruled in favour of a lawsuit to ban the broadcast of the TV series Omar, based on the life of  Caliph Omar ibn Al-Khattab, which was first screened in Arab countries several years ago.
The court said the ruling was based on a decision by the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy in 1999, which stipulated that “religious figures” should not be depicted in any theatre, cinema or television work.
“The decision issued by the academy is an effective administrative decision issued by the competent legal body authorised to issue such decisions, as mandated by the constitution and the law,” the court said.
“Messengers and prophets have their reverence and respect in the hearts of society, so it is not acceptable that they be a subject of an artistic vision, imposed by the writer of the act or the actor’s personification, which certainly contradicts the truth of the character,” the court said.
The series Omar is based on the life of Omar ibn Al-Khattab, and depicts his life from 18 years old until his death. The series has faced controversy over its depiction the four Rashidun caliphs, Omar, Abu Bakr, Uthman, and Ali, and other important characters in Islamic history.
Omar ibn Al-Khattab, born in 584, was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history. He was a senior companion of the Prophet Muhammad and succeeded Abu Bakr as the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate in 634.
He was a prominent chief of the Quraish tribe and one of the Prophet’s Muhammad fiercest enemies before converting to Islam, one year after the migration to Abyssinia in 616.
The depiction of religious figures in art work has been a subject of debate in Egyptian society for years.
In most art, TV and cinema work, messengers, prophets and prominent religious characters were often personified by an aura of light.
Omar was a 2012 historical Arab television drama miniseries that was produced and broadcast by MBC1. The series was directed by the Syrian director Hatem Ali and co-produced by Qatar TV.
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