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Tunisian cinema critic: Culture is the way to defeat extremism

Sunday 04-12 - 09:15 PM Mohamed Sameh
Tunisian cinema critic:
Al-Bawaba News Portal  interviewed Tunisian critic 'Naila Idris', who is currently visiting Egypt as a guest at several film festivals. Idris emphasized the role should played by Intellectuals to tackle extremism and to cope with the fluid of political complex in the Arab region.
AlBawaba reporter 'Sarah Al-Amin' interviewed  Idris who is a legal adviser, who launched her personal blogtitled “Masieri” or (my destiny), in which she wrote in French language. Idris got the idea of the name from an Egyptian movie called, “Al-Maser” by legendary Egyptian film director 'Youssef Chahine'. Idris’ blog became one of the most famous and popular blogs in Tunisia, in which she usually writes about cinema and creativity in general.
Tunisian cinema critic:

Can cinema repair the damage inflicted by politics?

She replied in a Tunisian accent, saying: “Culture is the only solution,” explaining that culture and art among the main priorities to reform the society, whether politically or socially, as cinema is the main window to create awareness among citizens. She pointed to Al-Bawaba, that for example, in Tunisia, during the era of Former Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Bourguiba, there were 120 cinema halls, but now there are only 13 cinema halls. She stressed that any observer can see the social and cultural difference among citizens after closing cinema halls.

Idris said that when she was receiving education at public schools, students were receiving education in three languages, Arabic, English and French, and were capable of fluently speaking them. But nowadays, only Arabic is being taught, which prevented the rising generation from opening up to other cultures that speak languages different to Arabic. She expressed her opinion that that was deliberate and the purpose behind it was to make people ignorant, because ignorant people cannot ask for rights. Idris called for reversing that agenda, as cinema is an essential mean in the fight against terrorism and religious extremism, of which the Arab community recently suffer from.

Tunisian cinema critic:

What is the current political situation like in Tunisia and how it affects culture?

She said that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) terrorist group control the south on social level and have no influence on the north, as well as on mosques in the entire country, unlike Egypt, Tunisia does not include the same proportion of the Salafists, adding: “We only feel their presence in demonstrations, because of their distinctive violent language, well-known black badges,”

Idris revealed that in Tunisia, MB is allied with the regime and pretend to be innocent, but all the intellectuals and politicians realize that this is just a mask, stressing that MB’s dominance has changed Tunisia for the worse, as MB’s presence re-opened made some topics, which were concluded ages ago, including polygamy. She blamed the MB for the occurrence of customary marriages, which Tunisians did not know of, before the MB persuaded people who wanted to marry more than one wife that marriage does not have to be official, in an attempt to escape the legal boundaries of the constitution that respects women and bans marrying more than one wife.

Furthermore, she pointed to Al-Bawaba that during the era of Bourguiba, there was a social obligation among citizens concerning family planning, as every family had the right to have four children and not exceed that, and now there is a campaign against it, as the MB persuades citizens to increase giving birth to children. She warned that that would hinder development and restricts the state's economy, adding that in Tunisia only the elite realizes the MB’s intentions, while the public sympathizes with the MB.

Photo by: Fawez Brins
Photo by: Fawez Brins

How do you see film production before and after the Arab Spring?

She replied by saying: “When a film was produced in a year, we were happy, but now there are a lot of films, which achieved massive success in the festival and won a lot of awards, including As I Open My Eyes, written by Leyla Bouzid and released in 2015, and won more than 40 awards,”

Idris pointed to Al-Bawaba that the film, which was displayed in Egypt, talks about an 18-year-old girl who loves to sing and wants to express herself. She explained that the events of the film takes place in 2010 before the Arab spring revolutions.

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