Ban on filming in Cairo mosque angers filmmakers

Ahram Online, Thursday 8 Mar 2012

Ahmed Abdallah prevented from filming in Sayeda Nafisa mosque despite having official permission, Egyptian Creativity Front condemns decision

The Egyptian Creativity Front has released a statement condemning the Ministry of Endowments for preventing the young filmmaker Ahmed Abdallah from filming in the Sayeda Nafisa mosque despite having permissions from the Ministries of Culture and Interior.

The cinema committee of the Supreme Council of Culture has also released a statement condemning the incident.

"Arts have always been an ally to religion," said the front's statement, referring to several examples in history, including the Islamic civilization in Andalusia, which left many artistic works and architecture.

The statement also said that filmmakers had always shot inside mosques due to their high artistic and historical value.

Another point the statement made was that Al-Azhar had released a statement months ago about artistic freedoms, read the statement.

Ahmed Abdallah said he objected to censorship rules and the need to get certain permission to shoot films but he still abided by them.

The film, Farsh we Ghata (A Bed and a Cover), revolves around a man who escapes from prison and stays for one night at a mosque.

"We sent the script to the Ministry of Endowments, however we were surprised to hear that shooting inside the premises of a mosque is forbidden under Islamic Sharia law," wrote Abdallah. "When we asked whether it is related to the script or the concept of shooting inside a mosque, the head of the ministry's office said that mosques are not places for shooting films.

"The next day we found an MP from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) at the ministry but we didn't get his name. He confirmed the objection to shooting in a mosque."

"We told them that there are many films in the history of Egyptian cinema that were shot in mosques like Kandeel Om Hashem, Ard El Khouf (The Land of Fear) and Wahed Men El Nas (One of the People), but we still got refused."

MP Mohsen Rady, however, has released a statement on Ikhwanweb, the official English website of the Muslim Brotherhood, condemning the decision of the ministry.

"This was just an individual case. It does not reflect the real view of Islam," Rady said. "There is no sin in the use of heritage sites for expression of Islamic culture and creativity."

He emphasised that the FJP did not take part in the decision.

"We safeguard the principle of freedoms for creativity, so long as it does not conflict with prayer times," he said.


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