Dar al-Ifta supports deletion of dancing scene from film

Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s grand mufti, demanded on Saturday that a scene in the leading box office movie “Abdu Mouta” should be removed, after it caused anger among Islamist groups who claim the song insults Islam.

The film has sparked uproar among the Sufi and Shia communities in the country, as it contains a scene in which a belly dancer dances to a song mentioning the names of Prophet Mohamed’s daughter, Fatma, and his grandsons, Hassan and Hussein. All three figures are revered in Islam, but Sufi and Shia sects of Islam give them special reverence.

On Thursday, the Culture Ministry confirmed that it ordered the censoring of the scene.

Dar al-Ifta, the government’s principal Islamic legal institution for issuing fatwas, said in a detailed statement on Saturday that it recommends deleting the scene to “show more respect to members of the Prophet’s household.” Such a statement offers religious credibility to the Culture Ministry's decision.

The statement came after a lengthy meeting on Saturday, 3 November, attended by scholars from Dar al-Ifta and a group of representatives from the actors and filmmakers syndicates, as well as some critics and public figures.

But Dar al-Ifta insisted that its recommendation does not amount to interference in the cinema industry. “We didn’t give an opinion about the whole movie,” the statement said.

“Abdu Mouta,” which is playing in theaters nationwide, recorded the highest one-day revenue in the history of Egyptian cinema, making LE2.5 million on the first day of Eid al-Adha in late October.

The movie has also been criticized for its strong violent content.

Ghad al-Thawra Party board member and prominent Shia Bahaa Anwar Mohamed issued a statement last week denouncing the scene as an insult to sacred Islamic figures. He pledged to take legal action against the film’s producers to prevent screenings of the movie.

Since the outbreak of the 25 January uprising, Islamist groups have led a broad campaign against what they deem the mockery of religious symbols in art. Liberal and leftist groups, however, insist that art is protected by the principle of freedom of expression.

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