Friday, October 12, 2007

"Coptic Church gives go-ahead signal: Egyptian movie tackles Christian extremism"

"Egypt’s megastar Adel Imam said the Coptic Church has given its approval to a new film where he plays a priest under threats from Christian extremists. The top comedian also highlighted a meeting with Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Shenouda III over the same topic.

"Imam further stressed that his meeting with Shenouda III addressed all thorny issues the movie is expected to trigger, according to UAE’s daily Al-Bayan. Imam is Egypt’s lead comedian and he is not unfamiliar with films that target extremism in the biggest Arab country.

"His film 'The Terrorist' (Al-Irhaby, in Arabic) in the mid 1990s tackled the issue of Islamists and extremism, but Imam received threats to his life from some fanatics believing the feature tarnished Islamist groups, in favor of the regime.

"In the new film, the priest, to be played by Imam, also receives death threats from Christian fanatics. He then escapes incognito to Alexandria, where the picture sheds light on the 2005 sectarian clashes in the coastal city and Egypt’s second largest. In late 2005 and early 2006, Alexandria was plagued by some Muslim-Christian feuding that took many lives and threatened a spill over through the country.

"The clashes erupted over a play performed at a church which Muslims considered derogatory.The film’s goal, according to Imam, seeks to bring the sectarian strife to the fore. Shooting is to start after Eid al-Fitr (the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan). The director and the rest of the actors are yet to be chosen. The movie depicts the relationship between the priest and a sheikh. They share the same plight: each is targeted by fundamentalists of his religion. They are both on the run and undercover.

"The priest escapes an attempt on his life for advocating national unity. The frame, like all Imam’s films, is a comic one, and doctrine is not expected to be addressed directly, according to the film crew.Imam thinks this movie will get him into "the wasp nest," but he insists on tackling such a sensitive issue: 'This is a threat to our national security, and we can't stand still.' Imam recently starred 'The Embassy is in the building' which tackled normalization with Israel, still considered the enemy by the overwhelming majority of Egyptians despite the peace treaty signed almost three decades ago."

Source: (Saudi owned, based in Dubai), October 12, 2007