Parliament's Islamist-dominated Religious Affairs Committee mulls film censorship law: Report

Ahmed Samy Metwally and Mostafa Shaaban, Thursday 26 Apr 2012

Parliament's religious affairs committee prepares bill aimed at penalising local producers, distributors of film content deemed 'harmful to society'

Still from
Still from 'I Don't Sleep', an Egyptian film produced in the 1960s

A draft law is currently being prepared by parliament’s religious affairs committee aimed at criminalising production of sexually explicit content by local media companies, flagship state daily Al-Ahram reported on Thursday.

According to committee head Sayed Askar, the law, if passed, would not differentiate between old and new films, and would be applied to any sexually-explicit content deemed "harmful to society." The proposed legislation, he clarified, would penalise the producers and distributors of such content, and not actors.

When asked whether the law would only prohibit nudity or would also extend to hugs and kisses on film, Askar declined to provide details but stressed that the law would "have the last word" regarding censorship issues.

Article 1 of the bill reportedly calls for the establishment of an independent, 15-member "Supreme Council for Audio and Visual Broadcasts." Council members would be appointed by the prime minister and include both Muslim and Christian representatives.  

The law's second article, meanwhile, lays down the council's responsibilities and authorities. It also lists proscribed content, including scenes of a sexual nature, both verbal and visual; scenes depicting the use of drugs, alcohol or gambling; and scenes deemed insulting to particular professions, races, genders or religions.

The penalties stipulated in the draft law reportedly include jail sentences and fines ranging from LE10,000 to LE50,000.

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