Artist syndicates freeze all cooperation with Algeria

The Union of Artistic Syndicates has decided to cease all forms of cooperation with Algerian artistic and cultural institutions until an official apology is made by the Algerian government in response to the alleged attacks on Egyptians following the World Cup qualifier between Egypt and Algeria.

Led by Mamdouh el-Leithi, Ashraf Zakki, Mounir el-Wassimy, and Ibrahim el-Shaqanqiri, the Union of Artistic Syndicates decided to freeze all forms of cooperation between the two countries, including artistic festivals. The decision also prevents Algeria from participating in any festival in Egypt, until the Algerian government apologizes for the events that took place after the match and for the harm inflicted on Egyptians.

A protest was also organized on the red carpet of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) by Abu Ouf, president of the CIFF, Ashraf Zaki, head of the Actors Syndicate and a number of Egyptian actors. The protest condemned the incidents that took place in Algeria and Sudan over the last few days.

The protest began at 6pm on Friday night and lasted for half an hour. Abu Ouf also denied that Algeria would be honored in the closing ceremony, despite reports by the media to the contrary. The closing ceremony only gives awards to the winners, he added.

“What the spectators and Egyptian artists have been subjected to is deeply disappointing. We never imagined that a sister Arab country would allow such things to happen. The Algerian artists welcomed in our country have been silent," Abu Ouf said, adding, "What happened in Sudan on Wednesday evening will not be forgotten by Egyptian artists who were humiliated by the Algerians."

El-Leithi said there was no going back on the decision to boycott Algeria, although Egypt would not stoop so low as to kick the Algerian participants out of the festival. He asked, "How could this happen when Farouk Hosni, the Egyptian minister of culture, was receiving them [Algerians] at the Cairo International Film Festival during the current session as the guest of honor?"

The head of the Musicians Syndicate Mounir el-Wassimi also offered his thoughts. "What happened has nothing to do with sports," he said, and because of this the Musicians Syndicate has decided to prevent any Algerian singers and musicians from performing in Egypt, and vice versa. "Anyone who violates this decision will be subject to legal punishment from the syndicate," he said.

"The least we can do is boycott the Algerians. As soon as I arrived at Cairo Airport, I decided that I would rather stop singing altogether than sing to an Algerian audience," said Mohamed Fouad, an Egyptian singer. "The Algerians only wanted to retaliate. There are pictures of them brandishing their weapons during the match," he added, stating, "Naturally, Egyptian players are scared, for if they had scored a goal, they would possibly have been killed."

Fouad believes that the Algerians were prepared to take revenge, because they did not bring children or women to Sudan, and they did not look like normal football spectators. He suggested that Algeria should not be in the World Cup because they will repeat the same scenario in South Africa. He wondered why a stone being thrown onto the football pitch in the past required a World Cup qualifying match to be replayed (between Egypt and Zimbabwe), while Algerian spectators carrying knives at the match did not warrant a rematch.

Haitham Shaker, another Egyptian singer, said he is going to boycott Algeria and will never allow his albums to be distributed there again. He also believes Sudanese security forces fell short in their protection of the crowd, by allowing the Algerians to enter the stadium with knives, while refusing entry to Egyptians carrying bottles of water. "After we left the stadium, we found some 10,000 Algerians outside waiting for us. They pulled up parts of the pavement and hurled them at our bus, smashing the windows. The bus stopped and they started throwing stones at the driver and at us," he recalled. "Then we hid at Tarek Nour’s Company for five hours," he said, adding that the president intervened at the right time and they were taken to the airport. Extreme measures, including recalling the Egyptian ambassador to Algeria, kicking out the Algerian ambassador to Egypt and severing relations with Algeria should be taken, he suggested.

In a related development, the Arab Company for Cinema Production announced that it is boycotting all Algerian cinematic and artistic festivals and will not deal with Algerians until they show respect for Egypt’s role in different parts of life.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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