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April 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Two weeks after Egypt’s State Censorship Board agreed to allow the screening of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, the country’s interim Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mehleb, acted independently to ban the film Beauty of the Soul (Halawet Rooh) on the grounds that it damages public morality. The action triggered the resignation of Ahmed Awad, head of the censorship board, who said that he was not consulted by the prime minister and observed that the board was set up as an independent body to make the final decision on whether a movie can be screened in Egypt. For his part, the prime minister issued a statement observing that “there is a difference between art and the infringement upon values.” But in an interview with the French news service Agence France-Presse (AFP), former Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazy reminded Mehleb of a court ruling forbidding interference in the work of the censorship board. “The premier has no right to suspend the screening of the film,” he said. Mehleb, however, would appear to have the overwhelming support of the Egyptian public — indeed, the Arab public in general — for his action. A study released last week by Northwestern University in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute, found that 69 percent of adults believe there should be more regulation of romantic content in entertainment. The survey was conducted in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Noah has been banned in Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE on the grounds that “it contradicts the teachings of Islam.”