When Censorship Met The Information Age

…it was a match made in heaven…

CAIRO — Egyptian police have confiscated 2,000 pirated CD copies of the controversial film, The Da Vinci Code, and arrested the owner of a local film production company, a security source said on Sunday.

A special police force charged with monitoring artistic productions raided the downtown Cairo store on Saturday, as the company prepared to distribute the CDs, the source said.

…It has not been released in Egypt, but the production has enraged the country’s Christians, who account for about 10 percent of the country’s population of 73 million. [source]

I can understand that they would want to ban it for the sake of a symbolic guesture, in other words doing it for the sake of politics, because given the current realities of the world today there can’t possibly be the expectation that they can physically go after every copy of the movie; but to actually try and do that? This is the information age; trying to confiscate these CDs is like trying to put out a bushfire by blowing on it!


Several movie theatres in the capital have pulled down posters of â??The Da Vinci Codeâ? film in anticipation of its possible ban.

Meanwhile, shops selling pirated DVDs in downtown Amman are awash with copies of the controversial film, which is based on the controversial blockbuster novel of the same name by American writer Dan Brown. DVD shop owners say customers are showing â??unusualâ? interest in the movie.

â??The first batch of movies I brought was sold out in less than an hour. Customers are eager to know why this movie attracted so much attention,â? said one shop owner, who refused to give his name.

Managers of movie theatres in the capital say they have not yet received the go- ahead to screen the movie, which was released worldwide last month.

â??We were concerned that the posters might hurt some peopleâ??s feelings,â? said Mohammad Hawasheen, director of Grand Cinemas in Amman. [Jordan Times]


  • I don’t think the problem here was the content of the movie, but rather piracy of the movie. It just happened to be of a highly controversial religious type.
    Now, I can never be sure of the real motives of the Egyptian authorities, but, on this one, I might be tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt

  • Q, (i’m going to call you “Q” from now on) the benefit of the doubt about what? the movie itself is banned by the goverment for religious reasons (like Jordan).

  • asalam 3alaykom,hi there..
    Q got it right ..tere are two laws regarding artistic merchandising..the one you mentioned before deals with the illegal copying..
    the other regards showing banned productions..when the content of the movie or program or what ever is questioned..
    it may not make sense that they need two laws..but if you look at it closely you would see the difference..
    that man who copied the cd’s..probably will send little kids to sell them on the pavement downtpwn for 10 pounds max.
    which is less than 5% of it’s value if suddenly the government decides to unban the movie ..believe me..they would do that..
    egyptian ..and i know..

  • I am a bit confused here, as I read the Da Vinci Code, I thought that the story of having Jesus get married doesnt contradict with Islam teachings at all. It has never been mentioned in the Quran whether Jesus got married or not. So what if he was warried to Mary the Magdeline? Already Muslims doesnt percieve him as a divine being as Chrisitans.

    He is a Prophet in Islam, a man, not a God. This is exactly what Dan Brown implies in his books. He doesnt attack Jesus as a person, he attacks Churches doctorine, and potential alteration of Christian religion that Muslims doesnt shy to talk about.

    I just can’t get how a Muslim country like Jordan with only more or less 10% of Chrisitan population would restrict the freedom of speech of the majority for some minor fundamentalists?!! I know many Christians who have read the book and wants to see the movie. If they have enough faith, it shouldnt shake it!

  • The Observer, there is a difference between believing Jesus pbuh was a mortal man (prophet) and going off on the tangent and saying he founded a royal bloodline. In other words, if our religion doesn’t mention it then we don’t make assumptions and invent our own versions of history not related to us in the first place. I’m simply explaining the Islamic stand point here.

    Secondly Christians are around 8% in Jordan and I wouldn’t call the Church leaders calling for the ban fundamentalists. They’re simply looking out for their religion from something which they deem to be offensive.

    Personally I’m not pro-banning anything if anything because in this day and age (as this post points out) you can’t really ban anything. So if anything a move by the government to ban or censor it would be nothing more than a symbolic guesture to the Christian community at best (and they know this). Anyone whose actually interested in the book or movie have already seen or read it by now in Jordan.

  • You are right, anyone in Jordan who wanted to watch the movie or read the film has already done that. They have only prohibited us from the pleasure of watching it at the Cinema, and gave us a feeling that we still lack some freedom of speech even in this era of time.

    Churches have every right to condemn the movie and the book, but they dont have any right asking the government to ban it. They wont defend Christianity this way, instead you can tell that even religious people became more anxious to know what this movie talks about. Beside, I havent seen a single religious people believing what is actually written in the book. We have heard those story before. People believe what they want to believe, dont you think so?

    Now as of Jesus conceiving a daughter, I cant see it in any way to contradict Islam. It doesnt eat or even add to his respect as a Prophet. If it is right, maybe it wasnt mentioned in the Kuran because it is irrelevent. Da Brown didnt invent his own version of history. I dont think that he is the first one to claim that Jesus married Mary the Magdeline and had a daughter with her. It seems that a lot of other people have talked about this before. Shouldnt we as Christians or even Muslims know about suck talk? Why do we have erase what we dont like in history? If some people talk about this, let us know about them and investigate their legitamate instead of putting our heads in the sand.

  • observer, first you dont have to convince me about censorship, im merely…for lack of a better word…making the obvious observations. But churches and christian groups do have the right to call for a government ban. as citizens they do have the right. whether they should have that right is another story. and its not so much about people believing (which im sure some have) but its about spreading misinformation, it’s about being slanderous. if someone called you a racist (for example) you can brush it off because you believe no one will believe that, but most people are still inclined to sue for slander or defamation of character.

    second, i’m not entirely sure you have a firm grisp on what constitues a contradiction to Islamic beliefs. whether it’s Jesus pbuh fathering a daughter and establishing a royal bloodline or Jesus being abducted by aliens, it all falls under the same category…the category of which we, as Muslims, cannot invent things, especially in the interest of great storytelling. whether dan brown is the inventor doesnt matter, the concept itself has been invented…the problem with da vinci code is that its popularized the concept.

    i’m open to investigation of history, what I am not personally open to is inventing things about religious figures and refusing to address that simply because it’s under the realm of possibility.

    that’s not good enough.

  • Nas, maybe you are right about saying that anyone has the right for calling to ban anything. Christians do have the right to do so in Jordan as well. Maybe I should blame the government for listening instead of Churches.

    You said that you are with open invistigation of history which is good. I dont think that Dan Brown has invented anything about the Jesus supposed royal blood. Well the story of the Da Vinci Code is fictional, but he brought everything togather and pointed out to a historical events that existed before. He didnt invent anything. Other documents talking about Jesus marrying Mary the Magdeline exists before. Dan Brown is merely pointing that out.

    Nice argueing with you. Have a nice day

  • Observer, the government hasn’t decided to ban it yet as far as I know.

    Like I said, I’m not saying Dan Brown is necessarily the inventor however he’s popularized the concept through this book and that’s why people are inclined to attack it even if its been around for awhile. When a book becomes this popular more and more people will read it and take it as fact when indeed it mixes historical facts with fiction to give the impression that it is real. Therein lies the problem for Christians, and on some other level Muslims as well.

    To tell you the truth this has less to do about Islamic teachings and more to do with Muslims showing solidarity with Christians.

  • Nas, really? I thought the government banned the movie here, otherwise they would have showen it in cinema.

    I am not sure that this is the way for Muslims to show solidarity with Christians as they dont shy to say that the Christian bible has been altered various times in history. They dont shy to say that Jesus is not a divine being and that he didnt die on the cross either. I have born Christian, and has heard those facts of Islam religion so long guy in my childhood. Everyone knows it, Dan Brown hasnt popularize anything new except the idea of Jesus marrying Mary the Magdeline which we heard before as well.

    I am not saying that there arent harmoney between Christians and Muslims in Jordan, because there is. I have never felt any racime towards us here but where it goes to facts in religion neither party is shy to speak up what they believe in.

    All what I am asking for isa bit more freedom for us. They cant hide things in this era of technology. It just sounds stupid. They can counter attack Dan Brown and let the audience decide. Cant a 2000 years religion stand against a 5 years old book?

  • Observer, no i dont think so. the cinemas took it down in anticipation of a ban (you can read the second quote in the post above).

    We dont say that Jesus was a prophet or that the bible was altered because we want to offend people intentionally. This is part of the belief in our religion. You cant remove that chunk out. Christians in Jordan for example already know this is part of our belief system. There are differences between Judiasm, Christianity and Islam where each claims to be the right religion and by default rendering the other 2 wrong. But with Islam (which I am speaking for here) we’re also taught to respect those boundries of differences. What would be wrong is to invent things out of the blue with the intention of being offensive.

    And how can you say Dan Brown didn’t popularize the idea? It’s the best selling book since I dont know what and the movie was a blockbuster hit. And Im not pointing out simply Dan Brown as the person and author, but the whole phenonomena of the Da Vinci Code has been generally popularized, through controversy, through media, through just about everything.

    And you’re wrong about “shy to speak up for what they believe in”. Muslims and Chrisitians, especially in Jordan, will tend to avoid the conversation all together. I have Christian friends in Jordan and I simply dont debate religion with them. This by the way is also part of the Islamic teachings, not to argue with Christians or Jews in a manner which says their religion has been falsified. There are lines drawn and we all respect that.

  • Nas, I disagree with your last paragraph. Even if it is part od Islamic teaching not to argue with Christians or Jews in a manner whcih says their religion has been falsified, but people dont usually follow this teaching. I have been living in Jordan all of my life, and never find any muslim who is shy of telling me his own belief of Jesus of not being a divine being but rather being a prophet. It has never been a problem for me. To each has his own beliefs and his right to expert it.

    I tried to read the second post above, you were saying that the movie IS banned in Jordan for a religious reason! Now you are saying that it isnt banned? If it isnt banned then this whole debate is meaningless. You should have told me so the minute I posted complaining about the ban!

    Here is what you said in second post:
    “Q, (iâ??m going to call you â??Qâ? from now on) the benefit of the doubt about what? the movie itself is banned by the goverment for religious reasons (like Jordan). ”

    Who said that Dan Brown wanted to offend people intentionally as well? Isnt he entitled to his own set of beliefs as Muslims and Christian do?

    I dont want to compare “The Da Vinci Code” Booke to the Quran cause there is not comparison, but in terms of popularity around the world, The Quran is much more popular, and it still contradicts the Christian idea of a divine Jesus. See, the idea was already popular 🙂

    If we are going to respect other religions rendering our religion wrong and live with it, why dont we respect and live with other non-religious ideas that render our religion wrong as well? The world is FULL of different beliefs, let us know about all, and decide the best for us.

  • Observer, i’m sorry i didnt understand your first paragraph…are you saying that muslims in jordan always tell you blah blah blah, or that they dont?

    yeah I did say that but if you notice in the original post there’s an “update” which i reposted before you commented.

    observer…to create a book that one knows full well that it targets and offends a specific group is irresponsible. secondly the quran is not a work of fiction and i dont like the implication that it is, thanks.

    i have no problem with co-existance but i have no idea how you’re relating it to the banning of the da vinci code.

  • Nas, Maybe we shall end this debate. It took so long, we are talking about sensitive subjects and you seemed to take my last post out of context.

    I DIDNT imply that the Quran is a fiction work in my post at all. Please dont make false accusations.

    In my first paragrpah, I say that Muslims dont shy to speak their beliefs as much as Christians. Yes, I have heard that Jesus is not a divine being and has not been died on the cross from many Muslims.

    It is irrelevent now what I was saying as I thought the governement has banned the movie based on the Church request in Jordan. I havent read the update before. It is okay, we had a good debate.

    You have a nice day…

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