Administrative court annuls prime minister’s decision to ban ‘Halawet Rooh’

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The Administrative Court in Cairo has annulled Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab’s decision to pull Halawet Rooh (Beauty of the Soul) movie out of cinemas, last April.

The court decided to accept the appeal presented by the producer’s lawyer against Mahlab’s decision to stop the screening of the movie, and referred the case to the Constitutional Court.

The prime minister ordered Lebanese actress Haifa Wahbe’s latest cinematic offering, Halaweet Rooh (Beauty of a Soul), to be withdrawn from cinemas days after the movie was released on 3 April.

The film tells the story of a nightclub singer called Rooh (Haifa) who becomes the object of sexual desire for men in her working class neighbourhood after her husband moves away.

The movie is directed by Sameh Abdel-Aziz, written by Ali Al-Gendy, and produced by Mohamed Al-Sobki.

Mahlab took the decision to pull the movie out of cinemas for its “excessive use of sexual overtone[s]”, as was reported by the Egyptian at the time.

One of those scenes depicted the rape of the character played by Haifa Wahbe, and the other was love scene between the main character and another actor.

However, the movie’s producer Mohamed Al-Sobki dismissed the criticism, saying the film contains “nothing that outrages public decency”.

The prime minister’s decision has been criticised by some Egyptian cinema makers, intellectuals and parties, as it represents state intervention in censorship and is a violation against freedom of artistic expression.