Mohammad Bakri Boycotts Egyptian Film Festival after Fellow Palestinian Filmmaker is Denied Entry

Mohammad Bakri's film ‘Jenin Jenin’ was banned from screening in Israel. (Photo: File)

By Romana Rubeo

Renowned Palestinian actor and filmmaker Mohammad Bakri canceled his participation in Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival on Tuesday, due to Egyptian authorities’ decision to detain and deport a young Palestinian filmmaker for ‘security reasons’, Variety magazine reported. 

In a statement released in Arabic, Bakri said that he decided to cancel his trip in protest against Zagha’s deportation and, in general, against the mistreatment of Palestinian artists.

“This was a reaction, in principle, to the mistreatment of Palestinian artists, regardless of their passport, whether it’s Jordanian, Palestinian, Israeli, or whatever,” Bakri stated, according to Variety. 

In his statement, Bakri also said that “it is high time that Palestinians are granted full rights, like the rest of the world. This doesn’t only apply to Palestinian artists. I’m referring to all Palestinians.” 

UK-based Palestinian filmmaker Said Zagha, who was invited to the Egyptian festival to present his forthcoming movie ‘Weedestine’, was detained at Cairo Airport on October 16, only to be deported back to London 12 hours later.

Zagha, who carries a Jordanian passport indicating his Palestinian origins, had told Variety that, despite the festival’s reassurances, he was detained at the airport due to ‘security reasons’.

“Once I arrived, it was a different story. Egyptian border control told me that I cannot enter without ‘special security coordination.’,” Variety quoted Zagha as saying.

Zagha is not the first Palestinian artist to be subjected to this kind of mistreatment. In his statement, Bakri also mentioned Ali Suliman, another Palestinian actor who was denied entry to Egypt in 2018.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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