Egypt debates controversial film


July 5, 2006

A controversial film is to be reviewed by the Egyptian parliament after 112 MPs demanded censorship of homosexual scenes, an independent MP has claimed.

They have criticised The Yacoubian Building, saying it defames Egypt by portraying homosexuality, terrorism and corruption, said the Associated Press.

The film, based on Alaa Al-Aswani's novel, opened in Egypt two weeks ago.

MP Mustafa Bakri, who led a campaign against the film, said it was "spreading obscenity and debauchery".

He added: "As a citizen I felt hurt when I watched it.

"I respect freedom of expression and creativity, but this is neither."

'Real' issues

Mr Bakri, who is also editor of the pan-Arab independent weekly newspaper El-Osboa, said MPs had not called for a complete ban on the film, but wanted scenes they considered to be "profane" cut.

The film depicts the interlinked lives of the residents of a Cairo apartment block.

Writer Al-Aswani said he regretted the controversy.

"It's a pity. How can a movie defame a great country like Egypt?

"Why aren't Italy, France or the US defamed by movies dealing with homosexuality?

"Novels and movies are not made to promote tourism, but to deal with real issues of life," he added.