Outrage in Egypt has erupted over a new film that explores same-sex relationships in both the historical and contemporary Middle East.
According to BMA Sources, the North African film “Bashtaalak Sa’at” (Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?), which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in early February, has caused quite a stir.
The film is written and directed by Egyptian-born Mohammad Shawky Hassan and digs into gay relationships in Arab society, looking at several folk tales via a queer lens.
The 66-minute film has yet to be screened in Egypt, but the outcry has already been massive.
A female narrator who desires to relate the love narrative between two men discovers a polyamorous chorus of lovers in Mohammad Shawky Hassan’s metafictional essay, and this oft-told tale is multiplied.
Egypt’s public decency laws criminalise homosexual behaviour. Egyptian courts sometimes impose heavy penalties on those found guilty of offences.
The country began a harsh crackdown on the LGBTQIA+ community, following a 2017 event in which a group of young people waved pride flags at a concert in Cairo. According to reports, 84 people were arrested as a result of the incident, several of them were subjected to rectal examinations as part of their interrogations.
Egypt notified the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this year that queer people do not exist, claiming that the country does not recognise the phrases listed in the resolution, according to sources.