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Syrian Censorship

Howard Gumnitzky

The Abu Dhabi film festival will screen “Long Night,” a Syrian film banned in Syria because it focuses on the plight of dissidents. The film also addresses the mistreatment of political prisoners in Syrian detention.

The decision by Damascus to ban the film is no surprise. Freedom House ranks Syria as “Not Free.”  In 2000, after inheriting the presidency from his late father, Bashar al-Assad jailed many Syrian intellectuals. More recently, Syria’s Supreme State Security Court sentenced at least five defendants to jail without due process for “membership in a banned organization.”

While the director of Long Night and Assad appear to be at odds, enmity toward Israel may be their lowest common denominator.  In a show of “loyalty,” Hatem Ali chose not to receive a prize at Italy’s Taormina International Film Festival, protesting an Israeli director on the judging panel.