Author Topic: Movie About Egypt's Christian Coptic Minority Raises Eyebrows  (Read 3149 times)

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Offline SamB

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Movie About Egypt's Christian Coptic Minority Raises Eyebrows

By Ursula Lindsey

Monday, July 19, 2004

Cairo: A movie focusing exclusively on Egypt's Christian Coptic minority and featuring Laila Elwi in a leading role, is sparking controversy, and may land the director in court.

A coalition of Coptic community members and clergymen has filed a formal complaint with the office of the prosecutor general, demanding that the film, I Love the Cinema (Baheb Es-Sinema), be withdrawn because it demeans religion, the church, and the clergy.

The movie chronicles the life of a Coptic family in Cairo's Shubra neighborhood in 1966. The father is particularly devout, and views his young son's obsession with the movies as sinful. It also includes an adulterous wife and kissing by an unmarried couple inside a church.

Director Osama Fawzy believes the strong reaction to the movie is partly due to the fact that it is unusual for Christians to see themselves in leading roles.

“In the first, I was thinking that [it was] because maybe they did not use to see Christian characters in Egyptian movies for a long time,” Fawzy said. “I mean, we have been doing films [for] more than 70 years; since the beginning of cinema, we are doing movies. It was rare to find a Christian character in any of these movies, and if you find one, it is not a main character or a main role.”

Fawzy is a Copt who converted to Islam when he married. He said he planned on retiring from the movie business, but denied it was because of the potential lawsuit.

Coptic cleric Father Morkos Aziz Khalil, who is leading the legal challenge, says the movie goes against the Coptic Church and its beliefs.

Father Morkos says the movie denigrates the Coptic practice of fasting by implying that a husband's fasting and abstaining from sex leads to his wife's adultery. Father Morkos also complains about scenes in which a priest is hit with a shoe and a young boy urinates in church.  

Father Morkos said the Coptic clergy should be consulted about movies such as I Love Cinema, and should have the same rights as Al-Azhar, the Muslim institution that reviews and censors all books, films and works of art that deal with Islam.

Coptic writer and intellectual Milad Hanna called Fawzy's movie courageous and deeply philosophical. He added that the debate it has stirred is a good thing, and should not be carried out in court.

"It is a cultural issue, not a legal issue,” Hanna said. “Had the film touched the creed of the Copts, the Christian creed, the trinity, Jesus Christ or whatever, they would have been justified to make a legal action."

Egyptian cinema has a long and distinguished history. In the 1950s, directors such as Youssef Chahine and Salah Abu-Seif produced classics that were watched across the Arab world.

The Coptic screenwriter of I Love Cinema, Hany Fawzy Kozman, said that the current state of the Egyptian film industry has made audiences unprepared for a serious film.

Kozman said Egyptian audiences are unused to films that address subjects openly. He said most movies these days are conservative and hypocritically devout, and tell people that they are living in the best of possible worlds. A movie that is frank, unusual or realistic causes people a painful shock.

Coptic Christians represent five to 10 percent of Egypt's population.

The prosecutor general will rule by the end of this month on whether the case against Fawzy and his movie will be allowed to proceed.

This artice originally appeared on and is printed here with permission.

Offline Stavro

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Re:Movie About Egypt's Christian Coptic Minority Raises Eyebrows
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2004, 11:34:35 PM »
The movie is disgusting and is targeted to counterbalance the effect of the movie "The Passion" which has been smuggled into Egypt and watched by millions before being opened for the public.

It is not new to Copts as we have been a target of the 24/7 islamic media propaganda for such a long time. The two producers (ex-christians) are paying their dues to the muslims, and all the critics and "christian" philosophers who complimented the movie are "Ischariots". For example, Milad Hanna, mentioned in the article, is anathemized long time ago by the church for confessing Islam as a divine religion and "Nabil Bebawi", the "christian" man who was a member in reviewing the movie, has written a Ph.D. dissertation in the Azhar university (Highest authority for muslims) about the signs for true prophecy of Muhamed and is also excommunicated by the church.
It depicts christians as sexually deprived and then sexually uncontrolled people, backed up by some Bible verses in the background. The funny thing is that the main character in the movie, an orthodox husband, who is supposingly a very staunch defender of Orthodoxy, has a Protestant wife. Their daughter has sex in the church next to the altar, their son urinates on the church from his room, and the priests are making obscene gestures during liturgy.
The movie has also many stupid mistakes in christian teachings. The story is written by someone who has hardly been to any church.

It does not matter. Copts will stay in Egypt as in Isaiah 19:19 till the end of times.

In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. (Isaiah 19:19)

" God forbid I should see the face of Judah or listen to his blasphemy" (Gerontius, Archmanidrite of the monastery of St. Melania)

Offline SamB

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Re:Movie About Egypt's Christian Coptic Minority Raises Eyebrows
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2004, 03:12:27 PM »
Shukran 'al ma'loomaat.

I wanted to know if someone had any idea about the Copts supportive of and behind the making of the film.

The only visual production I saw with Coptic characters was the musalsal, Khalatee Safiy'ya wad Deir (loved the rural, Egyptian accent).  Ever seen that one?

Animus against Copts aside, I have never seen an Arabic film production of any kind with - by our standards - graphic scenes of obscenity in a religious building.  Ya kharabi.

I'd like to see it myself.

« Last Edit: July 20, 2004, 03:19:48 PM by SamB »

Offline Antonious Nikolas

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Re:Movie About Egypt's Christian Coptic Minority Raises Eyebrows
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2004, 04:15:34 PM »
Can they really be serious when they say that the controversy is simply because Copts are not used to seeing themselves in leading roles?  Could a movie be produced in Egypt ridiculing the Islamic faith, showing a couple getting busy in the local mosque, and some kid taking a pee on its roof?  And portraying the Muslim woman as some sort of whore?

May God strengthen His Church in Egypt so that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
I'm with the camp of 13 million Americans that believe politicians are, or are controlled by, Reptilians. I think only monks can solve this problem. It doesn't seem right that they prefer to ignore it.