A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dispatches from the Sidelines of the Culture Wars

It's been a while since we've looked at the lighter side of the culture wars in the Middle East. This in no way is intended to minimize the darker side, so visible in this weekend's drive-by shooting of a Coptic wedding in Imbaba, Egypt, presumably by Islamists, that left four dead, including a young girl. Those grim events are the front lines; these are reports from the less depressing sidelines.
  • Usually, Arab countries carefully screen and censor movies before permitting their release. In Dubai, recently, however, a Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger movie called Escape Plan was shut down halfway through. (I've never heard of the film, but given the age of these two action heroes, are they escaping from an old folks' home? Are there wheelchair chases?) (Before you complain, I'm a senior citizen myself. I just don't star in action films.) Anyway,  according to  The National, the showing at the Ibn Battuta Mall's Grand Cinema was stopped in mid-film when it was discovered a character in the film curses in Arabic. Somehow that had apparently been missed by the original censors.  The National does not enlighten us as to what was actually said.
The "Halal Sex Shop" website presents its products as being "entirely safe," and in compliance with Islamic norms.
Internet users who enter the site find two different links directing them to separate sections for male and female products.
Other sections of the website are designed to discuss sex in the context of Islam under various headings: "Oral sex according to Islam", "Sex manners in Islam" and "Sexual life in Islam."
The anonymous founders of the website said they believed the online shop would help correct prejudices against Islam which they claimed is perceived as "against sex."


Manfred Arcane said...

Actually, I saw "Escape Plan" last weekend and it was pretty good (an old school action film with old action heroes). But what was most interesting was part of what led to the Abu Dhabi shutdown. The film has a positive portrayal of a practicing Muslim inmate who is very much a fierce, tough guy (played by Pakistani American Faran Tahir). He does curse in Arabic but both his character and his religion are portrayed with unusual respect, especially considering the genre.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Why would a Pakistani American curse in Arabic? Is he playing an Arab? Anybody want to post what he said?

Manfred Arcane said...

The actor is Pakistani American. He plays a conservative Muslim prison inmate of inderminate nationality (reference is later made that he ran an "opium cartel" before being imprisoned). Don't remember all the Arabic, but he does call the Schwarzenegger character a pig (khanzeer) and an infidel (kafir) and I think I recall something about somebody's mother.