Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb issued a decision on Wednesday to pull the movie “Halawet Roh” (“Sweetness of spirit”), starring Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe, from theaters. Mehleb ordered the Censorship Authority to reevaluate the movie and make a final decision on whether or not it should be banned.
In a phone interview on privately owned Al-Mehwar satellite channel, Cabinet Spokesperson Hossam al-Qawish stated on Wednesday that the Prime Minister did not actually see the film. However, information about the inappropriate content and message of the movie was sent to the cabinet, and screenings of the film were suspended accordingly.
Journalist and television presenter Ibrahim Eissa criticized Mehleb’s decision and asked if “this is the freedom and democracy you are talking about?” During Wednesday’s episode of his talk show “25/30”, aired on the privately owned ONtv channel, Eissa added that it is not the prime minister’s job to ban movies. He argued that the Censorship Authority should have taken a decision on the film before it was screened.
Presidential candidate Mortada Mansour, however, agreed with Mehleb’s position, adding that “the decision came late.” Mansour commented on Wehbe’s revealing dress and stated the film should be called “sweetness of a breast.”
Bassam al-Zarqa, leader of the Salafi Nour Party, expressed his gratitude to the prime minister on his Twitter account on Wednesday, saying that “obscenity isn’t art.”
The movie’s producer Mohamed al-Sobky described the banning of the movie as a “disgrace,” adding that all rumors about the content of the film are false. Sobky added that the suspension of the movie has cost him LE15 million.
The film tells the story of a divorced woman apparently in a relationship with a minor.