Egypt's parliament rejects granting art-centric syndicates judicial powers to crack down on 'substandard artists'

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 26 Dec 2021

A legislative amendment granting the Union of Syndicates of Acting, Cinema, and Musical Professions judicial powers to crack down on "substandard singers" and punish those who practice without a license was rejected by Egypt's House of Representatives on Sunday.

File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)

After a two-hour debate, MPs rejected the government-drafted amendments to Law 35/1978, insisting that they are against granting the union of art-centric syndicates judicial or police powers.

Parliament speaker Hanafi Gibali had to close the debate when the majority of MPs voted "no" to the amendments.

MP Mohamed Radi, secretary-general of the House's Defence and National Security Committee, said "It is too much to give judicial powers to three syndicates on acting, cinema and music." He added, "I do not prefer that professional syndicates get judicial powers, especially as these could be used for seeking personal interests."

MP Maha Abdel-Nasser, the spokesperson of the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party, said she is against granting judicial powers to the three syndicates because these powers will do nothing to stem the tide of substandard artistic production. "We are in an age of open skies and no obstacles whatsoever could be used to prevent persons from using social media to broadcast their activities," said Abdel-Nasser.

MP Diaaeddin Dawoud, a Nasserist deputy, said "judicial powers are not necessary and it is better that artistic activities be left to the judgment of the people."

MPs Amira Al-Adly and Mohamed Ezzat said "fighting substandard artistic activities should not come through granting the union of the art-centric syndicates judicial powers, but through producing high-standard artistic creations."

Chairwoman of the House's Culture and Media Committee Dorya Sharafeddin, however, defended the amendments, insisting that granting the syndicates judicial powers is necessary to fight low-standard art which has become rampant in recent years and caused disgust among the public. "We should use every possible tool to protect Egyptian art from low-standard and indecent creations," said Sharafeddin.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives approved the articles of a new government-drafted law allowing the state treasury to obtain a part of the proceeds of private funds and surplus money gained by public institutions.

A parliamentary report said the new legislative move aims to support the state budget in order to be able to meet the country's social and economic needs.

Parliament speaker Hanafi Gibali said the law will be put up to a final vote in a later session.

The first article stipulates that the state treasury will get five percent from an account with money ranging from EGP 5 million to EGP 7.5 million, 10 percent from a fund account with money from EGP 7.5 million and EGP 15 million, and 15 per cent from a fund account with more than EGP 15 million.

However, the article also stipulates that the accounts of research projects funded by grants, foreign agreements, donations, university hospitals, health departments and social housing projects will be exempted from the law.

The House also approved two foreign agreements on oil exploration in the Gulf of Suez and the Western Desert.

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