Egypt Pulls Lebanese Star Haifa’s Movie

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Egypt has suspended screenings of Lebanese film and pop star Haifa Wehbe’s latest movie after criticism over scenes deemed sexually provocative.

Interim premier Ibrahim Mahlab ordered “Halawet Rooh” (Beauty of the Soul) off the screens until Egypt’s censorship board reviews it again, the prime minister’s office said late Wednesday.

The Egyptian-made movie, said to have been inspired by Monica Bellucci’s 2000 hit “Malena”, was released across the country on April 3 for adult-only audiences.

The film revolves around Rooh, played by dark-haired pop star Wehbe, who ignites passion among the men in her neighborhood when her husband is away.

Wehbe’s revealing clothes and sexually explicit movements has stirred harsh criticism in Egypt.

Independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm lashed out in a movie review headlined: “Halawet Rooh: how to produce an Egyptian porn movie?”

“The movie doesn’t miss one scene of Haifa without her exposing a part of her body,” Ramy Abdel Razak wrote in the review.

“In the only scene where she is dressed modestly … the clothes are torn off her in a provocative way,” the reviewer said.

Egypt’s National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, a government body, said the movie posed “a moral danger” which could impact “public morals negatively”.

The film’s producer Mohamed al-Sobky dismissed such criticism.

The film contains “nothing that outrages public decency,” he told Al-Mehwar television, adding Qatar was the only Arab state were his film was not being screened.

Not everyone welcomed the suspension.

“The one who bans a movie because he thinks it breaks morals will ban a movie” tomorrow for political reasons, television host Ibrahim Eissa said.

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