Egypt’s Sawy Bans Play ‘For Insulting Religion’

“Mono-drama Auto bus” play was banned from showing at the al-Sawy Cultural Center in Cairo in its 7th Mono-drama theater festival taking place this month.

24 rights movements issued a joint statement condemning al-Sawy Cultural Center in Cairo for banning the play “Mono-drama Auto bus” from showing over its alleged use of “foul language.”

The Egyptian Women Union, the New Woman Foundation, the Egyptian Coalition and the Egyptian Democratic Institution are among the organizations who have signed on in condemnation.

According to the Sawy judging committee, the play featured a sentence that contains “foul language against religion.”

The play in question, directed by John Milad and acted by Mina Ezzat, was supposed to start with the actor throwing a fit and threatening to ruin the play, saying the disputed line, “I will ruin the damn show” or loosely translated from the Arabic, which uses a common swear word that many religious persons forbid, arguing it is “insulting religions.”

The rehearsal immediately came to a halt when the actor uttered the line. The play was removed from the program and all attempts to bring it back failed.

“The time of banning and censorship is over,” said the signing organizations. “No one has the right to question the intents of an artist and everyone should be given the chance to express themselves freely without putting limits to this creativity,” they added.

“We demand an explanation from the center on where it stands on the issue of freedom of expression and to allow the play to be shown and present an official apology to its creative team.”

Center said it will ban any show that is insulting any religion.

Al-Sawy center was started by businessman and member of parliament Mohamed al-Sawy, who runs a leading advertisement company in Egypt. The cultural center has a long history with censoring and banning art that goes against the religious beliefs of its founder.

Sawy was short listed for the position of minister of culture in the transition government that followed the ousting of Hosni Mubarak early 2011. His name on the list stirred an uproar from Egypt’s intellectuals and artists who started a campaign against him, over his anti-freedom of expression actions and positions, Bikyamasr reported.