While several artists have already voiced their concerns over the coming to power of Islamists following their sweeping victory in parliamentary elections and the way this is expected to affect the art scene in Egypt, several others saw those fears as exaggerated. Comedian and director Mohamed Sobhi belongs to the second category.
“I call upon people not to listen to speculations about Islamists that are blown out of proportion,” Sobhi said Friday in an interview with the Egyptian satellite channel al-Mehwar.
Sobhi explained that fanatics among Islamist parties are a minority and stressed that Egypt a long time ago decided the debate about whether art is permitted or prohibited in Islam.
“What we need to focus on is how to achieve progress in art after the deterioration it had gone through in the previous era.”
Sobhi argued that he finds it unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi parties will hinder progress in the arts.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has many members that are known for their creativity and Salafi parties have patriotic members who will be willing to do all it takes to serve the country.”
When asked about the former regime, Sobhi argued that Mubarak did a lot for Egypt as far as development and projects are concerned, yet failed to focus on Egyptians themselves.
“The problem started with the 1995 assassination attempt in Ethiopia, for instead of retaliating on those involved he took it out on the Egyptian people and did his best to bequeath power to his son Gamal with the help of his wife.”
As for post-revolution Egypt, Sobhi said that all parties involved have committed one mistake or another.
“This includes the revolutionaries, the military, Islamists, and even the silent majority.”
Sobhi said that had the revolutionaries chosen around 50 people to speak on their behalf, many problems would have been solved by now.
“We would have now had a parliament, a constitution, and an elected president and we would have outrun Tunisia in the democratic transition process.”
Sobhi also criticized many journalists who, as he put it, turned into revolutionaries after the ouster of Mubarak.
“Those have even become more revolutionary than the revolutionaries themselves and are now doing their best to satisfy the revolutionaries in Tahrir. They even justified the burning of the Scientific Complex library and said it is not more important than the martyrs.”
The real revolutionaries, Sobhi explained, are those who criticized Mubarak while he was in power.
“Also those who paid their lives for liberating the country are the real revolutionaries.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)