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Oscar-winning Iranian film banned from screening at Cairo University

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 14 March 2012 - ANHRI denounces the board of administration of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Cairo University for banning the Iranian film “A Separation” from screening at the Faculty's premises on 8 March 2012, failing to state reasons.

The film has won several prominent international awards for its artistic value and the human depth it portrays. It is not of any political or religious nature that may give the Faculty's board a pretext to ban it. Rather, the film tackles the idea of conflict resulting from the choice between immigration or staying and belonging to homeland and family.

Therefore, ANHRI believes that the board's action was arbitrary and runs counter to the freedom of artistic creativity. Although it had approved a screening permit after watching the film in full, the board revoked the permit upon objections from fundamentalist groups within the University. This revocation provoked the anger of the students who have failed to convince the faculty's board to screen the film as part of the University's student activities for the advancement of the students' artistic knowledge.

The fundamentalist groups that avidly sought to prevent the screening of the film inside the Faculty based their objection on the basis that the film promotes Shiism, secularism, and al-Assad's regime at the expense of Syria. However, none of this appears in the film nor is even indirectly alluded to. The board's decision to succumb to the pressures is a setback for freedom of creativity, especially considering that universities should to be the first bulwark in any society against extremism and censorship on artistic, academic, and literary creativity.

“Entrenchment of freedom of creativity should begin from within the educational process. How can we encourage a student to innovate and express freely if we fight and suppress freedom of creativity and expression in his/her years of study? The Egyptian Universities have to get rid of the censor role which the former regime had invented, and should not drift behind any fundamentalist orientations that would pull them back to the dark ages. Art is the conscience of nations that must never be curtailed on the basis of any religious or political ideas. It may be criticized in accordance with literary and creative standards only,” said ANHRI.

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