Anti-censorship Play in Lebanon…Censored

In April, the Lebanese anti-censorship organization “March” announced that they would be staging a play “Bto2ta3 aw ma Bto2ta2?” (Is It Permitted or Not?) According to Marchthe play is not permitted:

From March’s Facebook page.

March’s Lea Baroudi told Now! Lebanon — and confirmed to ArabLit — that it was a tale reminiscent of Sonallah Ibrahim’s The Committee:

“As expected, a play against censorship is not easily digested by the authorities. It’s been over a month (since July 17, 2013) since the script of the play “bto2ta3 aw ma bto2ta3”(“is it permitted or not”) has been submitted to General Security for public viewing.

“The play exposes in a satirical way the censorship process in Lebanon through showing a day in the Censorship Bureau at the General Security. The script has been under review for a month now (it usually takes a few days). We have called several times without getting a clear answer.

“They finally told us on Tuesday, August 20 2013, that the censorship commission has still not made a decision on whether it will authorize it or not.

“Then we finally receive a call saying we were summoned by the head of the censorship bureau at General Security, General Akiki.. We came to meet with him on Wednesday, 28 august, he was shouting at the office, saying that this is unacceptable and we were offending and making fun of the censorship bureau, and portraying a very wrong image of them ( he even asked his subordinate if it’s true that when he salutes him, he hits his foot on the ground like we show in the play) and that he will not allow it. We said this was a play, its art and therefore does not necessarily portray reality, it’s not a documentary. We then asked what part of the law allows them to forbid it, he simply said the law allows me to forbid whatever I want and I will forbid it. He said we were making fun of them and therefore will never allow it (he was taking it very personally)…We asked for a written official rejection paper, they are stalling and said it’s a process that needs at least 10 days. We’ve been waiting for a month and a half now and we were supposed to present the play next week to the public and this is how they allow art to flourish in this country.”

A trailer for the play:

Twitter users were, predictably, displeased: