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Egyptian Filmmaker Faces Challenges

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Following debate about censorship in the U.S., and the questionable decision of Random House to pull a historical novel about the Prophet's wife A'isha, I thought I'd show you a perspective on the challenges facing writers and filmmakers in Egypt.

Yousry Nasrallah is one of Egypt's leading directors, who has spent much of his career working out strategies for dealing with these challenges. They come from the state censorship board, representing the interests of Egypt's entrenched dictatorship; the Islamist lawyers who patrol the airwaves and publishers' lists for potential insult to Islam; ahd the political motivations of funders and distributors.

The trick, Nasrallah told me, is not to tackle religious or political subjects head on, but accept the dominant ideologies while subverting them from within. His 1995 documentary, On Boys, Girls and Veil, which followed a family of hijab-wearing women, is a masterful examination and critique of the veil that is still regularly shown on state-owned up buses as they travel the country.

It's worth noting that Nasrallah's best known work, at least in the Middle East, is his 2003 epic Bab al-Sham, which caused controversy for debunking some of the myths of Palestinian victimhood (based on the Elias Khoury novel) but which has sadly not found a U.S. distributor. Nasrallah suspects that's due to its equally staunch criticisms of Israel.

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Comments (13)

Observer:

Usama accuses;
“American politics has trapped the Muslim world under these dictatorships, like the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Moroccan, Pakistani, even American helped bring the Syrian regime to power.”

Those cited dictatorships are ruled by men who try to emulate the “Rightly Guided” caliphs. Those caliphs were imitating Mohammad, the founding warlord. The Muslims are putting up with these totalitarian rulers because they were made to believe that they are the successors of he caliphs. Some legitimize their hold on power by showing some connection with the family of the prophet. Therefore if you want to blame somebody, it should be no one but your cult’s archaic ideology, and the paralyzed thinking of its adherents who could not see through the fiction described as Allah’s commands.

Apostate:

Kharak ponificates:
The Holocaust is the unvarnished truth about Christianity.
Matt. 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Well at last some Muslim who can read and read something besides his Quran. This verse that Muslims lock onto as a drowning person to a straw refers to the discord that Christians should expect within the members of one’s own family between those who believe and those who don’t. I am a living testimoony to that.
When another blogger advised that you read this in context, he means the context of the life of its founder. How many wars had Issa initiated or taken part in?

Ibrahim Mahfouz:

Khan says:
"I would like to add that Islam is the fastest-growing religion... "
Man you live in a different world. Check out the confessions of a noted Muslim cleric cited below. That 6 million per year is the number of Muslim converts(apostates according to your cult)) in Africa alone. I hate to ruin your day.
http://www.formermuslims.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=972

Garak:

Read the Bible in context? Oh my, what's next, reading the Koran in context?

Anonymous:

Garak,

Read the context of that verse and you will find it does not mean what you are asserting.

Mephista:

Sounds like everyone needs to get over the 'god thing', then work with what is left....Intelligence? Imagination? Compassion? No religion has the monopoly on such things.

Usama:

Why should Muslims respect or listen to Westerners or their backstabbing spies and coharts like this movie director?

Why are you trying to subvert the Muslim world or its values or ideas?

American politics has trapped the Muslim world under these dictatorships, like the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Moroccan, Pakistani, even American helped bring the Syrian regime to power.

So blaming the dictatorships for the plight of the Muslim world is to blame America and Europe as well. They perpetuate the state of affairs.

Garak:

The Holocaust is the unvarnished truth about Christianity.

Matt. 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Unvarnished Truth:

Saqib Khan,

There is nothing peaceful about Islam. Muhammad himself said: "slay the infidels" (Qur'an 9:5).

jkoch:

"The Jewel of Medina", by journalist Sherry Jones might be more readable, but possibly less subtle, than "The Satanic Verses." If Jones is unable to find a major publisher, surely she can publish on-line. Lots of Muslims would read it, whether they admit it or not. It's queer though, that some people who barely wince if Al Qaeda bombs a mosque or a skyscraper, or who see no reason to censor Al Qaeda sites or admit that OBL claims to represent Islam, nonetheless explodes in rage over a book, film, or stuffed bear. A tolerant or peaceful Muslim could be only one whose ethical priorites are the opposite of that, and furthermore, does not sanction imprisonment or execution of a person who leaves that faith or preaches another.

Observer:

Saqib spews:
“have noticed that a lot of comments here reflect nothing but mendacity and perfidy of mentality of many against Islam as they can not stomach the truth that Islam preaches love, peace, justice and equality to all without prejudice of colour of skin, religion, caste and origin.”
THE ANSWER TO THIS man’s HALLUCINATIONS IS THE OMAR PACT CITED BELOW.
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pact-umar.html

muscat friend:

People like Nasrallah are more needed than ever to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism in the Arab world. Power to him.

Saqib Khan:

Islam is the religion of peace but it will not acquiesce in wrongdoing, cruelty and oppression, otherwise world will be taken over by ‘devils’ and demons’ . I cannot allow its followers to be mere spectators in a situation where wicked and sinful live in peace and enjoy plenty and pious, the righteous and the upright are condemned to privation and suffering. “ Moral knowledge according to the teaching of Islam automatically forces a moral responsibility upon man. A mere platonic discernment between, right and wrong, without an urge to promote the right and destroy the wrong is a gross immorality itself.

I have noticed that a lot of comments here reflect nothing but mendacity and perfidy of mentality of many against Islam as they can not stomach the truth that Islam preaches love, peace, justice and equality to all without prejudice of colour of skin, religion, caste and origin.

I would like to add that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the USA and Europe; over 50,000 people of various beliefs are voluntarily converting to Islam every year despite vehement anti-Islam propaganda in the press and media. More and more people converted to Islam after 9/11 as they found out that pro-Zionist capitalist media/press, Judeo-Christian fundamentalists, neo-cons and warmongers were telling nothing but lies to sully Islam. Terrorism was invented by President G W Bush to invade Arab Muslim countries to loot their oil wealth and natural resources.

Al-qaeda, Osama-bin-Laden, Mujhadeen and Taliban(students) were nurtured, breast-fed, finanaced and trained by the Americans and European intelligence forces to fight against Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 80s'-90s' and these freedom figters as they were called then by the West helped to crush communism from the world.

With regard to terrorists and those who kill innocent people will go to hell and not paradise according to Islamic teaching. According to Islam, "killing an innoocent human being is like killing whole of the humanity".

We find to our immense delight that most convertsthese days are women - an added bonus. We are instructed in the Quran not to veer to extremes but adhere to ummatum wassatun (middle path) and refrain from excess of any kind and 99.99% earnestly strive to attain this middle ground, which is the most fertile ground in which to practice our Deen as Allah intended for us: an Islam of peace, compassion, mercy, tolerance and justice for all.

Finally, I would like to say that Muslims considers it a big sin to say anything against any of God's prophets but a lot of misguided and disgruntled non-Muslims indulge in the ugliest verbal frivolities against Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.