News | Lebanon
The Sabbah Brothers distribution company decided, on February 7, 2017, not to screen the Egyptian film Mawlana in Lebanese cinemas if the General Security’s censorship department insisted on censoring 12 minutes of the movie. The company has also submitted a petition to the General Security and the Ministry of the Interior Nohad Al-Mashnouk asking them to reconsider their position.
“The movie supervision committee had required that 12 minutes be removed from the film before it can be screened, arguing that the scenes in question could incite sectarian strife and provoke conflict between different religions. To defend a free and multicultural Lebanon, and out of respect for the company’s history and the rights of the filmmakers, we have decided not to screen the movie in Lebanon, should the General Security stick to its decision,” the company said in a statement.
The company’s CEO Sadek Al-Sabbah added that even though their decision not to screen the movie will result in major financial losses, it will serve to protect the upcoming generation of filmmakers and hopefully foster a safe environment for creative works by ensuring that they are free of any censorship.
Mawlana’s director, Magdi Ahmad, has signed a petition submitted to the censorship department and minister Mashnouk. “Despite the groundless accusations levelled at Mawlana, the movie seeks to achieve the opposite of what it is being accused of. It calls, indeed, to be tolerant, to accept others, to refrain from fighting under the pretext of holding the absolute truth and to avoid exploiting religion for political purposes,” he said. Ahmad also called for the formation of a non-partisan committee comprising experts in the fields of art and culture in order to review the decision of the supervision committee and either accept the film as it is or reject it entirely. The supervision committee shall also be “held morally and ethically responsible for this repression of creativity, which has never succeeded, throughout history, in putting an end to humanity’s progress toward kindness, love and peace.”
On February 2, 2017, the movie supervision committee, affiliated with the General Security, decided to censor 12 minutes of Mawlana, before allowing its release in Lebanese cinemas, under the pretext that it incites sectarian strife among Muslims.