The Yacoubian Building is a movie about contemporary Cairo, Egypt. It deals with issues such as corrupted Imams, sexuality and poverty through the lives of residents in a downtown building called The Yacoubian. The movie is molded from the best selling novel by the same title.
Marwan and Wahid Hamed are Egypt's most celebrated father and son screenwriters. They have written well over 40 screenplays and in the father's own words he says "...I think the movie will be like a document of the time we live in..." and that "...the movie says in public what many citizens are thinking in private."
A hundred and twelve MPs have demanded censorship of the homosexual scenes saying that they are "defamatory and spread debauchery and obscenity" and that the movie goes against Egyptian values. One MP Mustapha Bakri said:"...as a citizen I felt hurt when I watched it. I respect freedom of expression and creativity, but this is neither."
The movie deals with the intertwined daily lives of residents of that building and according to Mr Bakri, the MPs did not actually call for a complete ban on the movie. Just asked that the "profane" scenes be deleted. He went on to say that "...novels and movies are not made to promote tourism, but to deal with real issues of life..." and asked "...it's a pity. How can a movie defame a great country like Egypt?Why aren't Italy, France or the US defamed by movies dealing with homosexuality?".
It's worth noting that Egypt is amongst the most conservative islamic countries in the World and issues like sexual behaviour are a big taboo. The most prolific example is the Queen Boat case, where 52 men were arrested on May 9th,2001 on counts of homosexual practices.
So much for a country that was once the sole superpower on the planet for an uninterrupted 4000 years!