First Published: 2017-03-05

New film fights ISIS’s ideology through comedy
While the film tackles ISIS terror­ism, it does not show bloody action.
Middle East Online

By Marwa al-A’sar - CAIRO

Detail from poster of the recently released film El-Armouty fi Ard al-Nar.

Few Arab films tackle the Islamic State (ISIS) but El-Armouty Fi Ard El-Nar (El-Armouty in the Line of Fire), a recently released Egyptian film, dares to fight the ex­tremist group’s ideology through humour.

“I thought of making a film about Daesh through a character the au­dience will love and show how the terrorist group has infiltrated many aspects of life, not only in Egypt, but also in other Arab countries,” film director Ahmed al-Badri said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “We attempted through the film to expose their lies and deception.”

Badri said comedy can be a tool to fight extremism.

“The audience’s reaction after watching the film proves that our message has been delivered suc­cessfully,” he said.

“The film is quite funny with el- Armouty throwing jokes all the time and making fun of Daesh and other extremist groups,” Heba Fawzy, a 37-year-old housewife, said.

The key character in the film is el- Armouty, played by Ahmed Adam. El-Armouty is a simple man who is shocked to see Mohamed, played by actor Mohamed Adel, the son of his neighbours whom he helped raise, drop out of college and grow a beard, returning home after a year’s absence to accuse his parents of be­ing “infidels”.

El-Armouty goes on holiday with his in-laws to Marsa Matrouh, a coastal city in north-western Egypt on the border with Libya. He jumps off the boat with his wife and her brother-in-law before it collides with a ship. He drifts ashore at the northern Libyan city of Sirte where he is captured by ISIS militants who mistake him for a member of al- Nusra Front, the former affiliate of al-Qaeda terrorist organisation and an ISIS rival.

El-Armouty miraculously escapes being beheaded by ISIS by getting involved with the militant group. Inside the camp, he either follows the orders of ISIS leaders or dies. He discovers that Mohamed had joined the group and is at the camp.

El-Armouty attempts to engage in a debate with the militants over the ideas they promote through a series of humorous situations.

“Schools turned into prisons and gardens turned into execution yards,” he says sadly, commenting on what becomes of Sirte under ISIS.

At one point, he fools the ISIS leaders, convincing them that he is on their side. At the same time, he attempts to save Mohamed and win him over by trying to reason with him and show him that ISIS misin­terprets the true meaning of Islam and its teachings.

“How did they persuade you that it is OK to kill?” el-Armouty asks Mohamed.

In several other scenes, he hu­morously tackles the takfiri think­ing of ISIS as well as disagreements between ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“I can’t get it. The people of Allah are fighting fellow people of Allah,” el-Armouty says, joking when ISIS members engaged with al-Nusra militants.

Badri said the “film’s theme is a simple one… I only try to deliver a message to the audience, namely terrorism cannot win the battle.”

El-Armouty is ordered to carry out a suicide attack in Egypt but the attack turns into a heroic action on his part.

“You antagonised the government at first but now you will antagonise the whole people,” el-Armouty tells Mohamed, referring to the Egyptian people. “And believe me, you will never overpower us. We are 90 mil­lion and we are all ready to become 90 million martyrs.”

While the film tackles ISIS terror­ism, it does not show bloody action.

“The challenge for us was to pre­sent the subject of bloody terrorism without viewers resenting it,” Badri said. “I thought there must not be a drop of blood in the film. We make a political comedy but do not want to give ISIS much importance by por­traying blood in the film.”

It took the crew two years to com­plete the film.

Even though the main idea of the film is interesting, critics said, the plot is not quite coherent, with many comic situations not serv­ing the main theme. On the other hand, Adam tends to repeat the same character of el-Armouty that he plays in other works, using the same jokes, they added.

“The film is rather weak, depend­ing only on a series of jokes told within a script that is not concrete,” critic Magda Khairallah said.

Tarek el-Shenawy, another critic, agreed.

“What we see has nothing to do with cinema,” Shenawy said. “In the film, we can only see Adam oc­cupying the whole space and noth­ing else.”

This is the third work in which Adam appears as el-Armouty. He played the part in the comic televi­sion series El-Armouty Fi Mohema Sereya (El-Armouty on a Secret Mis­sion) in 1998. He also played the character in the film Maalish Eha Benetbahdel (We are Being Screwed) in 2005.

El-Armouty Fi Ard El-Nar was written by Alaa Nabawy and Mo­hamed Hassan and produced by Ahmed al-Sobky.

- Marwa al-A’sar is a Cairo-based journalist.

- Copyright ©2017 The Arab Weekly.

 

Erdogan resumes Gulen arrests after referendum win

France says has proof that Syrian regime behind 'chemical attack'

Trump says Assad's future 'not a deal breaker' on Syria

Iraq holding hundreds of millions of Qatar’s ransom money

Global leaders call for ridding world 'forever' of chemical arms

Exiled Turkish journalist urges EU to confront Erdogan

Morocco seizes 420 tonnes of plastic bags in year since ban

Mass funeral for dozens slain in Syria bus attack

Qatar insists Baghdad had ‘full knowledge’ of hostage deal

UN eyes new Yemen peace talks

Turkey opposition heads to European court to challenge referendum

Turkey says informed US, Russia prior to Kurdish strikes

Iraqi forces liberate ancient city of Hatra from IS

Saudi fire stops explosives-laden boat from Yemen

50 Syria migrants stranded on Morocco-Algeria border

Libya asks EU for patrol boats to stem migrant wave

Bangladesh approves Saudi-funded mosque project

German Chancellor regrets Israel snub of foreign minister

UAE sentences Iranian to 10 years for sanctions breach

IS using weaponised drones in battle for key Syria dam

Saudi government shake-up strengthens position of king's son

Israel allows NGO director visa after 'bias' row

Kuwait suspect confesses to plotting IS attacks

Russia has thwarted IS attack on far east oil hub Sakhalin

Death toll in Turkish air raids on Syria Kurds rises to 28

Draft resolution to pressure Polisario to withdraw from Guerguerat

Baghdad condemns Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish forces

Iran, major powers to review adherence to nuclear deal

Turkish warplanes pound Kurdish forces in Iraq, Syria

IS executes Iraqi civilians in Mosul

Netanyahu cancels talks with German FM over NGO meetings

Qatar World Cup workers receive random health checks

Libyan government calls for foreign intervention as fighting spreads

Tunisia parliament votes to ease harsh drug law

Nostalgia dominates Iraqi Ba’ath conference in Spain

Young Iraqi innovator building home-made drones

Moroccans call on Le Pen voters to quit country

Turkey court rejects opposition challenge to referendum result

Spain arrests 4 for links to Belgium IS attacks

Iraq forces push towards UNESCO site in Hatra

Israel appoints country's first female sharia judge

Frontline clinic is window to hell of IS-held Mosul

Iraq forces retake west Mosul neighbourhood from IS

Iraqi Kurds lament ‘unacceptable’ Turkish air strikes

Khamenei urges Iran candidates to focus on home