Head of Egypt's censorship board resigns over Halawet Rooh being pulled from cinemas

Ahram Online, Saturday 19 Apr 2014

Film starring Egyptian-Lebanese 'sex symbol' Haifa Wahbe has sparked controversy - and cleaned up at the box office - since being released in cinemas earlier this month

Haifa Wahbi
Still of Halawet Rooh staring the Egyptian-Lebanese diva Haifa Wahbi

The head of Egypt’s censorship board, Ahmed Awaad, has submitted his resignation to the state’s culture minister in protest against the government's recent decision to pull a controversial Arab movie from cinemas, Al-Ahram reported on Friday.

On Wednesday, Egypt's interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb ordered a recently released Egyptian film, Halawet Rooh, staring the Egyptian-Lebanese diva Haifa Wahbe, to be withdrawn from movie theatres pending a reevaluation by the censors.

The decision came 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".

Awaad, who had already approved the movie to be shown in cinemas, considers Mahleb’s decision as unacceptable interference in his job, Al-Ahram added.

However, it’s not yet clear whether Awaad’s resignation has been accepted or not.

Despite many of Egypt’s cinema insiders being critical of Wahbe’s movie, most of them have been defiant against the prime minister's decision, calling it undemocratic and a violation of free expression.

Mahleb announced on Saturday that he was sticking to his decision and would not reverse it, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.

According to the Egyptian cinema news website elcinema.com, Halawet Rooh garnered over LE988,000 in just its first week in 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, exceeded 4 million views.

The film is directed by Sameh Abdel-Aziz and stars Bassem Samra and Mohamed Lotfy alongside Wahbe. 


Short link: