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Copt threatens suit over divorce film in Egypt

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.watan.com/en/culture/328-copt-threatens-suit-over-divorce-film-in-egypt.html Copt threatens suit over divorce film in Egypt Written by Administrator
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3 8:13 PM
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      Copt threatens suit over divorce film in Egypt
      Written by Administrator
      Tuesday, 03 February 2009 00:40

      A controversial movie still in production about a
      Coptic Christian woman in Egypt who has a baby
      out of wedlock after the church’s refusal to
      grant her a divorce has come under fire from
      Coptic activists who are seeking to ban the movie for insulting Christianity.
      Coptic lawyer and activist Nabil Ghobrial warned
      in an official filing Monday that the Coptic
      church would sue those involved in the film as
      well as governmental authorities if production
      was not halted or the film censored.

      He called for the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the
      leading religious authority in Egypt, to
      intervene and issue a ban on the movie, Wahid
      Sifr (One Zero). Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi,
      as head of the Islamic Research Center, is
      charged of reviewing books and films with religious content

      This is the first time the center has been asked
      to intervene in a work involving Christianity,
      traditionally the exclusive domain of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
      The filing, specifically addresses the two
      leading actors, the Coptic scriptwriter, Egypt’s
      prime minister and the censorship authority.

      "If they do not respond within a week of
      receiving it, I have the right to submit a
      complaint to the Attorney General against all
      parties involved in the film," said Ghobrial.

      The film has already begun shooting in Cairo
      Media City, and Ghobrial threatened to add the
      head of the media free-zone to the complaint if
      he does not close down production.

      But the film’s supporters argue that the movie
      deals with a civil and social issue, not a religious one.

      "The film is about the difficulties Copts face to
      obtain divorce and get a permission to remarry,"
      Scriptwriter Marian Naaoun told the Egyptian magazine Rose al-Youssef.
      She said she consulted a Christian cleric and a
      lawyer while writing the script and stressed that
      she felt she was very considerate in the way she tackled this sensitive issue.

      The movie follows three interwoven stories, one
      of them about a Coptic woman who is not granted
      permission by the church to remarry because her
      divorce was not recognized as valid. Though her
      friends urge her to convert to Islam to be
      granted the divorce the observant Christian
      cannot deny her faith and ends up having a baby out of wedlock.

      The Coptic Church grants divorce only in two
      cases: adultery and conversion to another sect.

      In an interview on Egyptian state TV before
      shooting started, leading actress Elham Shahin
      said she hoped the movie would change Coptic church’s current divorce laws.

      The lead actor, Ahmed al-Fishawi, predicted the
      movie would cause controversy during the same
      interview because it calls for granting Christian women the right of divorce.
      Ghobrial sought to garner support his request for
      intervention from al-Azhar with previous
      statements made by Sheikh Gamal Qotb, former head
      of al-Azhar's Fatwa Committee, who urged the
      censors to ban any movie that harms the image of
      Christianity. He said the sheikh considered it
      inappropriate for artistic works to deal with or
      criticize religious doctrines or laws.

      "The movie tackles one of the seven secrets of
      the church—marriage," Ghobrial told AlArabiya.
      "It calls for changing biblical marriage and divorce laws."

      Coptic Church spokesman Bishop Morqos pointed out
      the need to seek approval from the church to
      ensure the film did not contradict the Christian faith.

      "We are not against creativity," Morqos told
      AlArabiya "But when this creativity is about
      Christianity then the church has to be consulted."

      Morqos denied that the church was assuming the
      role of censor, but then said experts on the
      film’s subject matter should be required to approve.
      But some Coptic Christians did not understand
      what the controversy was all about since the
      divorce issue is not under wraps and saw no reason to ban the film.

      “The issue of divorce and Coptic Church is well
      known in Egypt and there is no need to bother
      censoring the film,” Heba Adel, a 26-year-old
      Coptic Christian, “It is not like the film will
      force the Coptic Church to change its doctrine,"
      she added, saying she opposed the legal notice
      and thought it would be ineffective.
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