Censor in Egypt bans children's song about David, Goliath
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- David slew Goliath, and then the Egyptian censor slew David.
Three thousand years after the Biblical battle between the daring young shepherd and the armor-clad giant, the Egyptian government's Audiovisual Censorship Authority has vetoed the production of a children's music cassette that would have included a song based on the tale.
"Presenting this subject now is not in line with the Egyptian social and political stance on the Palestinian uprising," said Madkour Thabet, head of censorship authority.
He said the proposed musical rendition of the Old Testament story -- also found in Islam's Holy Quran -- presents Israel in a positive light. This was deemed inappropriate at a time when Egypt and other Arab states have accused Israel of excessive use of force in confronting Palestinians.
More than 300 people have died in the current violence, the vast majority of them Palestinians, including children and youths, some of whom were throwing stones at Israeli troops.
A song about David, the Israelite shepherd who gathered five smooth stones and with one hurl of his slingshot felled Goliath, the heavily armed Philistine, was struck from a musical track that was to have been distributed in Egyptian churches.
Thabet, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said the producers of the music cassette understood the censors' decision.
But Ghada Tosson, one of owners of Mirage Records which was to produce the tape, said the censors have yet to formally advise the company of the decision to strike the David and Goliath song.
When it does, she added, the entire project will be shelved.
"The topic is not political at all. It has nothing to do with politics," she told the AP.
The track on the David and Goliath tale was the only one struck by the censors. The cassette on which it was to be used had been envisioned as the first of a series to teach Christian children various virtues by drawing on Biblical characters.
The contents of the album -- lyrics and narration -- had been approved by Egypt's Coptic Christian Church, whose followers number about 10 percent of the mostly Muslim population of 65 million people. But Thabet said the church's opinion on the material was only relevant in so far as religious matters are concerned.
"Anything related to the political and social contexts is a different story," he added.
In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country sign a peace treaty with Israel, but the relations have often been cool. Angry and frustrated with Israel's role in Israeli-Palestinian violence that began September 28, Egypt recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv last month.
The story of David and Goliath is common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. David is a hero for all three faiths, showing how God helps those who believe in him. "Daoud," the Arabic version of "David," is common among both Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.
The Old Testament's book of I Samuel, read by both Christians and Jews, tells how David took only his stones and slingshot into battle, knocked out Goliath with the first stone and then grabbed the Philistine warrior's sword and cut off his head.
The Quran, in the chapter entitled Al-Baqarah, or The Cow, also relates that David slew Goliath "and Allah (God) gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever he willed."
The popular Egyptian weekly magazine Rose El-Youssef applauded the censors' decision, saying they "prevented a scandal."
The magazine said the music planned for the cassette would have told Egyptian children about "Israel's glories ... and bluntly refers to the superiority of the Israelites."
Censors in conservative Egypt are usually vigilant for material that could offend Egyptian sensitivities about religion, sex and politics. They review scripts for movies, TV soap operas and song lyrics. mf/hh-da/emf
International News Archives