Sadat’s daughter takes on Hollywood movie
CAIRO —The daughter of Egypt’s former president Anwar Sadat has filed a complaint against the makers of “I Love You Man,” a 2009 Dreamworks film, for naming a dog after her father, her lawyer said Saturday.
Egypt’s prosecutor will look into the complaint, but it is unclear what sort of action Egyptian courts could take against the Hollywood movie company.
In the movie, actor Jason Segel’s character has a dog named Anwar Sadat. When asked if it’s because he likes the former president’s policies, the character replies it is due to the dog’s resemblance to the Egyptian leader.
The name of the dog also appears in the credits as Anwar Sadat, playing himself, the dog.
“This is a disaster, a serious affront,” said Samir Sabri, the lawyer for Rokaya Sadat, daughter of the former president and peace Nobel prize winner.
The film, directed by John Hamburg, opened in Egypt last month, but the scene with the dog had earlier been excised by the distributor. Word of the scene only came to light in the last week when it was publicized by an Egyptian Web site.
“This has caused serious psychological and moral damages to the plaintiff, as President Sadat is a prominent figure in the Arab history in general and in Egyptian history in particular,” the lawyer’s brief said. “Everyone agrees that he is a unique leader who was politically savvy, and has worked hard to serve his country.”
Muslims believe dogs can violate ritual purity and consider them unclean. Calling someone a dog is one of the worst insults in the Middle East.
Commentators in Egypt have called the movie, which grossed more than $71 million in the U.S., another in a long series slights against Arabs and Muslims in Hollywood.
The goofy comedy, dubbed the latest in a series of Hollywood “bromances,” focuses on the importance of male bonding and friendships.
Sabri said he has also filed a libel lawsuit against the Egypt’s minister of information, demanding that copies of the movie be removed from the market, because it has “gravely tarnished the name and history of the leader…and symbol of the nation.”
Rokaya, Sadat’s daughter, was quoted in the independent daily al-Masry al-Youm on Wednesday saying the Egyptian censorship authorities should be held responsible for allowing the movie to run in Egyptian theaters.
Censorship of foreign films in Egypt is common, though usually it is nudity and love scenes that are targeted.
The head of the censorship authority Ali Abou Shadi told the daily that the movie arrived in Egypt with the scenes about Sadat already removed.
Sadat ruled Egypt between 1970 and 1981, when he was assassinated by Islamic militants who rejected the peace deal he signed with Israel two years before.
In comments to the state news agency, U.S. embassy spokeswoman Margaret White praised Sadat as one of the great leaders of the 20th century, a reputation which could not be diminished by a passing remark in a movie.
Sadat’s daughter has been a fierce defender of her father’s reputation and recently won a libel lawsuit against the daughter of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had said Sadat had plotted the murder of Nasser.
Sadat’s daughter won 150,000 Egyptian pounds ($27,000) in compensation for that case.