(Credit: Netflix)

Films

The first-ever Arabic Netflix film stirs controversy in Egypt

The first-ever Arabic-language feature film on Netflix has landed the streaming service in some controversy with an Egyptian MP, who lodged a formal complaint against the same. 

Titled Ashab Wala A’aaz, the Netflix film has allegedly, according to MP Mostafa Bakry, offended the various customs and culture of Egyptian society. Bakry has now gone as far as to demand the boycott of the streaming platform. 

Translated as Perfect Stranger, the film premiered on January 20th, 2022, and is a remake of a 2016 Italian film. In Wissam Smayra’s debut feature, the film is Netflix’s first-ever Arabic original, following the other Arabic series released by the streamer, including Jinn and AlRawabi School for Girls

It features a stellar pan-Arab cast, including award-winning director and actress Nadine Labaki, popular Egyptian actress Mona Zaki, Georges Khabbaz, Eyad Nassar, Fouad Yammine, Diamond Bou Abboud and Adel Karam. 

Since its release, it has sparked much controversy and debate, becoming a trending topic in the conservative, Muslim-majority nation. The film sees a group of close friends playing a game at the dinner table where they share their personal texts, calls and messages, revealing their deepest, darkest secrets. 

One such secret involves a homosexual relationship, while another involves Zaki’s character having an extramarital affair. Bakry is appalled by the group’s acceptance of a homosexual relationship as well as the light-hearted ignorance toward’s Zaki’s infidelity. 

In his complaint, he protests against the film’s vehement refusal to adhere to the moral code of conduct in Egypt and has voiced out his displeasure and disgust at the portrayal of Arabs. 

Bakry had previously protested against AlRawabi School for Girls in 2021 due to the show’s portrayal of same-sex relationships between teenage girls. 

While legions of fans have spoken up on behalf of Smayra’s film, Bakry is joined by Ayman Mahfouz, one of Egypt’s most well-known lawyers, in his rage against the film. 

Watch Ashab Wala A’aaz on Netflix now.