You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Censorship chills Arab Spring

Tunisia, Egypt players navigate fundamentalist politics

ROME — As the Arab Spring countries shift from dictatorship toward more complex political scenarios, there are strong signals that hardline Islamic censorship could impact entertainment industries in Tunisia and Egypt, the nations most swept up by revolution.

Nabil Karoui, owner of Tunis-based satcaster Nessma TV, was fined about $1,700 on May 3 for airing Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis,” which includes a scene depicting Allah, whose portrayal is forbidden by Islam. The ruling, which condemned Karoui for “broadcasting a film that disturbs public order and threatens proper morals” followed a long legal battle in a case widely seen as a landmark test of freedom of expression in the country that triggered the Arab Spring.

In October 2011, days after “Persepolis” aired on Nessma on the eve of Tunisia’s first democratic elections, about 150 Muslim radicals torched Karoui’s house with firebombs. After briefly fleeing to France, he and his and his family now live protected by bodyguards. Yet, in an interview with the BBC, Karoui struck an upbeat note, saying that, despite the trial, freedom of speech in Tunisia has improved. “We can talk, we can criticize the government, we can film the people who attack us and sue them. Of course, sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Egypt, which will hold its first democratic election on May 23, many were alarmed late last month when a court convicted the country’s king of comedy, Adel Imam, to a three-month jail sentence for “insulting Islam.” Adel, who has not been incarcerated, has appealed. The case named laffers such as “The Terrorist,” in which Imam plays a fundamentalist who firebombs videostores offering blasphemous films and attacks Western tourists, but eventually questions his beliefs.

And conservative Islamists in Egypt’s parliament are reportedly pushing for a cinema censorship law calling for cuts in Egyptian films of all scenes showing physical affection, including the kisses and hugs that are a constant in vintage local classics, which are still a major TV staple on state-owned Egyptian Television Network.

More Film

  • Unicorn Store Trailer

    Watch the First Trailer for Brie Larson's Directorial Debut, 'Unicorn Store'

    Brie Larson is seeking salvation from Samuel L. Jackson in Neflix’s first trailer for her directorial debut, the offbeat comedy-drama “Unicorn Store.” Larson is portraying a lonely 20-something dreamer who’s been kicked out of art school. She’s forced to move back home with her parents and take a temp job at a PR agency. But [...]

  • Patti Rockenwagner

    Chief Brand Officer Patti Röckenwagner Leaves STX Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patti Röckenwagner is leaving STX Entertainment where she has served as the company’s chief brand officer. She announced her departure in a memo to staff, in which she said she was departing for “another opportunity.” The exit is an amicable one. Röckenwagner joined STX in 2016 as its chief communications officer before being promoted to [...]

  • Gabrielle Union

    10 Things We Learned at Variety’s 2019 Entertainment Marketing Summit

    Variety’s 2019 Entertainment Marketing Summit, which brought top execs to Hollywood’s NeueHouse on Thursday, covered considerable ground. From cutting through the noise in an oversaturated media landscape to welcoming exciting technology like virtual reality, industry veterans offered insight into what to expect from the marketing world in coming years. Here are 10 things we learned [...]

  • Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces On

    Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces on Flurry of High-Profile Series

    Following “The Name of the Rose”(pictured) and “Devils,” France’s Orange has unveiled four internationally-driven series projects as part of its commitment to step into premium original shows with its film/TV division Orange Studio and pay TV group OCS both of board. Currently in development, the social western “Cheyenne & Lola,” the dance-filled workplace drama “The [...]

  • 'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the

    'This Isn't Spinal Tap': Dishing the Dirt on Motley Crue's Surprisingly Dark Biopic

    The new, eagerly awaited Motley Crue biopic, based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling 2001 book, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” premieres today on Netflix after a seemingly endless 13 years in development hell. Those anticipating “a fun ‘80s music movie,” as Crue bassist Nikki Sixx puts it, will inevitably be stunned [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Nabs $7.4 Million on Thursday Night

    Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Us” opened huge with $7.4 million on Thursday night in North America. The figure easily topped Thursday preview numbers for “The Nun” at $5.4 million and “A Quiet Place” at $4.3 million and nearly matched “Halloween” at $7.7 million. Projections for Universal’s “Us,” Peele’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s “Get Out,” have been in [...]

  • Beatriz Bodegas on Netflix Original: ‘Who

    ‘Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?’ Producer on New Spanish Netflix Original

    BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival. Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content