Morocco Defends Ban of ‘Much Loved’; Attack on Actor Is Called Unrelated

1:18 PM Aida Alami 0 Comments

By Aida Alami

Morocco’s communications minister on Wednesday defended the government’s decision to ban the film “Much Loved,” which shows scenes of prostitutes in Marrakesh partying and servicing wealthy Saudi clients. Meanwhile, the state-run news agency said there was no link between the film and a knife attack on a cast member.

“Much Loved,” directed by Nabil Ayouch, had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, and when excerpts from the film were later leaked online, they set off an uproar in the North African kingdom. The government banned the movie’s release there.

Defending the ban, news reports quoted the minister, Mustapha Khalfi, as saying that it was instituted to “protect freedom of expression, which absolutely does not mean freedom of absurdity and destruction in cinema.”

He said the script his department saw differed from the final version of the film. In a previous interview, Mr. Ayouch said there were minor changes, “as it always happened when you work on a movie.”

The film has led to death threats being lodged against the actresses who play the prostitutes. An actor, Youssef El Idrissi, who played a Saudi client in the film, released videotape testimony on Saturday saying that after he left a radio show, he was attacked by someone with a knife who said he had “harmed the image of Morocco.”

But the Moroccan news agency Maghreb Arabe Presse quoted police forces on Monday saying that the fight was unrelated to the movie and that it involved “a personal matter.”

You can read the story on the New York Times' website

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