The state-run Hanager theater’s announcement that the play “500s” will not be performed due to technical issues disappointed many who were looking forward to it. The play is part of Bussy Project’s efforts to raise awareness about sexual harassment. It was scheduled to run on March 15th and 16th as part of the Fifth Hakawy Festival.
According to BuSSy, the real reason behind that is that the manager of the theater, Dr. Amany Youssef, had been told by a theater technician that the play is inappropriate and that it had subjects of masturbation and sexual education. The manager then asked to have a private viewing of the play and that it gets “toned down”. This, the troupe refused, because it undermined the play’s integrity.
Now that the play is banned, it is yet another setback for free speech. We, Egyptians, are being forced to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to anything that is even remotely controversial. Anything involving sex, politics or religion is automatically censored, even if it’s – like 500s – aiming to better society and raise awareness.
Choosing to neglect that our sexual education is nonexistent and that it is part of the reason why we have so many sexual violence crimes will only make things worse. This is not even about the freedom of art – even though nothing is wrong with calling for that – it is about freedom to raise awareness. And even that seems to be too much to ask for.