Thursday, July 13, 2006

Egypt's "Brokeback Mountain"

The most controversial and popular movie in Egypt right now is The Yacoubian Building,
a film based on a best-selling book. The film is notable for its depiction of gay life in Egypt and for its portrayal of how oppressive government practices fuels civil violence.

Here's a excerpt to a story about the film in the Middle East Times:

However, despite the popularity of the film, the blatant depiction of homosexuality in it has created a divide among Egyptians and members of parliament.

One-hundred-and-twelve Egyptian deputies have decided to bring the issue to a head, creating a committee to review the movie and decide what should be cut; Scenes portraying homosexuality top the list.

"Mustafa Bakri [MP] saw it and he was enraged and came to the people's assembly saying one-third of the movie is about perversion," says Hamdi Hassan, head of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in parliament.

"This depiction of perversion is unjustified. These scenes are rejected by religion and the values of the Egyptian society, even if the society suffers from these problems," he adds.

It's not just the Muslim Brothers who are concerned about the film. In fact the MB has refused to condemn the movie, citing the need for freedom of expression.
"We are suffering from repression in a closed society, and calling for omission or banning would be a road to confusion," Hassan said.

The article suggests that one reason why the MB won't condemn the movie is its portrayal of government ruthlessness. One character is dragged off to prison and sodomized; the incident leads him to join a militant group.

The film remains uncensored, but many expect that to change. For now, it's popularity stands as an example of the stubborn strength of Egyptian society, the diversity of voices within it and some hope for the maturity of its ability to resist government pressures on issues such as freedom of expression.

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