Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bubur Masir : Antara filem al-Mulhid dan Temubual el-Baradie

Al-Molhid (The Atheist) Egyptian film praises Islam, says film crew
Ahram Online goes one-on-one with Al-Molhid film crew, director Nader Seif El-Din, and actors Mohamed Hisham and Mohamed Abdel Aziz. The film is to be released during the winter break vacation
Farah Montasser, Sunday 25 Nov 2012
Film Crew: Yasmine Gamal, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Sabry Abdel Moneim (Courtesy of Al Molhid film)

Almost two years since the January 25 Revolution in Egypt, unrest remains vivid within the country. Under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, from whom hails President Mohamed Morsi, many have questions protections on freedom of expression in the arts and culture. The team behind the Egyptian feature film Al-Molhid (The Atheist) shared their experiences with Ahram Online.
"We are never pro-atheism," says Nader Seif El-Din, opening his conversation with Ahram Online. He insists the film project "has nothing to do with the revolution and does not challenge the ruling Islamist ideologies of Egypt today."
The story of Al-Molhid, currently in editing, dates back three years. "I first noticed this rise of atheism in Egypt way before the revolution and I wanted to investigate the matter," El-Din told Ahram Online.
The film depicts a young man who was born Muslim (a designation that cannot be changed) but started disbelieving Islam and all religions as he grew older. El-Din spent more than four months researching atheism. The story of the young atheist, played by Mohamed Abdel Aziz, also known as Zizo, is based on a number of cases El-Din investigated during the last years of Mubarak's regime. Yet El-Din admits that the script was re-edited after the revolution to fit the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The exact number of atheists in Egypt remains unknown. Religious freedom is a very sensitive issue while drastic measures have often been taken against those claim to be atheists, including fines and imprisonment. As an Islamic country, the state does not recognise atheists. Yet the Internet has been an open space for atheists in Egypt to meet and organise weekly assemblies, like Think Atheist website that has gathered hundreds of atheists in Egypt.
"I did write the script, but first went to Al-Azhar for guidance. I give thanks to the sheikh I met there, who helped me all the way through with clarifying the teachings of Islam, and some events that take place in the film, as you will see," says El-Din.
"It is only to highlight the fact that among young people, the thought of becoming an atheist has widely spread, since there are a lot of ridiculous notions of what's right and wrong claimed by those who call themselves Islamic scholars," says actor Mohamed Hisham, playing the guiding sheikh in the film.

Correcting the message
"I believe the dominance of fundamental and false Islamic messages spread by those who claim to be Islamic scholars has increased. Therefore I found it a must to continue with my film and help clear the image of my religion," El-Din describes. "No authority or school is powerful enough to either stop or correct them," he states.
"Al-Azhar, since we began working on this project, has been very supportive and not once has anyone from Al-Azhar ordered us to stop. All scholars we met and those who watched the film for approval said 'Bravo' and 'Please proceed,'" Hisham states.
According to El-Din, "Al-Azhar was pleased with Al-Molhid and encouraged us as the film discusses a major social problem we have today."
Last month, Al-Azhar board members gave their approval for the film. According to Al-Ahram Arabic, not a single shot of the film was objected to. Furthermore, the Censorship Committee of Egypt approved the film without any cuts, "making it the first uncut movie," Hisham jokes.
Hisham recalls screening Al-Molhid in front of the Censorship Committee along with director El-Din. "When we first went in, before the viewing, and met with the committee, I noticed a number of script pages being marked at the top corner of each page. I told Nader." El-Din interrupts: "Yes, Hisham said: 'It is over, the film will not pass,' but I calmed myself down and told him, 'Let's wait and see,'" El-Din remembers.
During the screening, the entire committee went silent and as the film came to an end, "They all greeted us and congratulated us. No cuts, no negative criticism, nothing," El-Din told Ahram Online.

Public response
Despite the approval of both Al-Azhar and the Censorship Committee, the film crew are still receiving threats. "We constantly receive attacks and death threats on our Facebook page, but nothing physical so far," Hisham confesses.
"People keep sending us hateful messages and there are those who have organised a campaign against us on Facebook too, but nothing more, and it does not scare us … We remain positive," El-Din says.
"What's funny is that both parties, Islamists and atheists, feel offended and share in those hateful messages equally," Hisham remarks with an ironic laugh.
According to the film crew, Yasmine Gamal, an actress in the film, has been also received messages from atheists. "One atheist keeps sending us messages demanding Yasmine's respect to atheists after she grouped atheists and con artists in one sentence in an interview … something that is absurd," El-Din recalls.
Starring in his first feature film, playing a molhid (atheist), Zizo, feels very proud. "I am delighted and determined as the rest of us working in this film," Zizo tells Ahram Online. Unlike his colleagues, Zizo has been attacked on the street. "Once a man with a beard came to me and advised me to stop the film, but I reasoned with him and told him to wait and see," he recalls.
Besides Al-Molhid, Zizo is also rehearsing for a play to be released soon. "I believe that the level of freedom in arts and culture has slightly increased following the revolution," he says.
The process of making Al-Molhid to the young talents involved is proof that the level of freedom has increased. Nonetheless, Hisham still believes there is "a long way to go" and "constant battles to fight." El-Din intervenes: "But this is a start and it is for us, the well-educated and culturally exposed, if I may, to create awareness. Thanks also to our producer, Adham Afifi, who never gave up on us."
Al-Molhid stars Mohamed Hisham, Mohamed Abdel Aziz (Zizo), Yasmine Gamal, Laila Ezz El-Arab, Sabry Abdel Moneim, Hassan Eid, and Ahmed Magdy.
Al-Molhid is scheduled to hit cinema theatres during the winter break in Egypt, though the exact release date remains to be decided.



ElBaradei Speaks Out against Morsi 'Not Even the Pharaohs Had So Much Authority'

Democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is critical of Mohammed Morsi.Zoom
Democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is critical of Mohammed Morsi.
Last week Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi granted himself sweeping new powers, a move that has sparked widespread backlash. In a SPIEGEL interview, Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei argues that the move threatens to plunge Egypt into a dictatorship.
SPIEGEL: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi granted himself broad new powers last week. Is this a coup?
ElBaradei: He grabbed full power for himself. Not even the pharaohs had so much authority, to say nothing of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. This is a catastrophe -- it a mockery of the revolution that brought him to power and an act that leads one to fear the worst. SPIEGEL: You are widely considered to be diplomatic and balanced. Why is your reaction now so dramatic? One of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood said that the new powers would only be in effect until a new constitution is passed.
ElBaradei: We have to look at it in the context of almost two years of transition. We have no functioning parliament and months ago Morsi assumed legislative functions. Now he's decided that there should be no opposition to the laws that he makes and that he is authorized to pass any national security measure. It is difficult to be more absolutist than that. And the constitutional convention -- what a sad gathering; it threatens to send us back to the darkest period of the Middle Ages.
Photo Gallery
SPIEGEL: Almost all of the liberal and Christian members of the constitutional commission have withdrawn. Why is that?
ElBaradei: Because we all fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will pass a document with Islamist undertones that marginalizes the rights of women and religious minorities. Who sits in this group? One person, who wants to ban music, because it's allegedly against Sharia law; another, who denies the Holocaust; another, who openly condemns democracy.
SPIEGEL: You believe that Egypt is on the path to becoming a dictatorship once again. But Morsi was legally elected and the Muslim Brotherhood has a majority.
ElBaradei: The Muslim Brotherhood received their votes under dubious circumstances. The country is fractured. If the moderate forces no longer have a voice, a civil war threatens to erupt in Egypt. I fear that. And I fear that this incompetent government will ruin the economy.
SPIEGEL: Has the Arab Spring already failed in Egypt?
ElBaradei: I don't believe that. I fight against that. In April I founded the Constitution Party. With the Social Democrats and all liberal powers we will combine against the Islamists. We still have a chance and we should not waste the awakening; that would be a tragedy. Young people want more personal freedom and better jobs. They want a clear word from the West against Morsi. If Americans and Europeans really believe in the values that they are always preaching then they must help us and pressure Morsi. SPIEGEL: Would you support freezing US aid to Egypt?
ElBaradei: I cannot imagine that someone with democratic principles could support such a regime for the long term.* We do not want to repeat the barbarism of the French Revolution.
* Correction: An earlier version of this interview indicated that Mr. ElBaradei would be speaking with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the coming days. That is incorrect. We apologize for the error.
Interview conducted by Erich Follath

Catitan Sut:

Kata orang  "bagaimana sekalipun fahaman dan pendirian anda,sekiranya anda ke Masir, anda akan ketemui manusia yang serupa dengan anda". Begitu sekali diversity yang terdapat di Masir. Dari al-Azhar kepada Ummi Kathom, dari Jamal Abdul Nasser sampai kepada Imam Hassan al-Banna. Dari sejarah Firaun kuno kepada sejarah Greeco-Roman, kepada sejarah Islam. Dari sufi kepada salafi. Sekiranya Masir adalah hidangan makanan, maka ianya adalah hidangan bubur mashakkal, yang mempunyai ingredients yang bermacam-macam, rasa yang belbagai  bahkan bertentangan.

Orang Masir terkenal sebagai orang yang verbal expression tertonjol, mereka punya penceramah dan khatib yang hebat, sekali berdemonstrasi semakin mahu berdemonstrasi, sehingga sesama sendiri dalam kehidupan harian yang peritpun mereka bermujamalah dengan seninya, atau menyumpah seranah dengan teruknya.

Filem 'Mulhid' dapat dibikin serta disiarkan di Masir, dikatakan telah mendapat endorsment daripada al-Azhar. Mungkin masyarakat kita tidak akan memberi tempat kepada filem seumpama itu. 

Begitu juga temubual dengan el-Baradaie, seoarang tokoh international asal Masir yang tiada mendapat sokongan majoriti rakyat Masir. Dia adalah orang Masir yang mempunyai nilai-nilai elite barat. Mungkin sahaja inspirasi rakyat bawahan tiada dapat ditanggapi oleh beliau. Tetapi beliau adalah sebahagian daripada warna-warna yang mencorak masyarakat Masir. 

Siapakah atau kelompok manakah yang akan mempunyai kesan dalam mencorak masa depan Masir?. Adakah corak itu ditentukan oleh rakyat banyak atau oleh kelompok yang dicaturkan oleh kuasa-kuasa luar? Bagaimana perangai rakyat Masir selepas mereka diberi pilihan dalam menentukan pimpinan negara mereka?


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