Egyptian film critic Ahmed Shawky has resigned from his post as artistic director of the Cairo International Film Festival after past controversial social media posts re-emerged.
Shawky had been acting as the event’s artistic director since its 2019 edition and had only recently taken over the role on a permanent basis. The next edition is scheduled for November 19-28.
AP is reporting that the posts included a blog in which Shawky appeared to condone violence when referring to the deaths of 70 people at an Egyptian soccer match in 2012; he described the fans as being “culled.” The critic had previously written about the death of the daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood leader in 2013, saying he would “kill her with my own hands”
In response to the resignation, the festival said it would continue to “uphold our principles of championing diversity, bridging cultures, encouraging dialogue, celebrating new voices”.
Shawky also posted his own statement on Wednesday, saying he resigned to avoid damaging the festival’s image. He also hit back, however, stating that the allegations were a “smear campaign”. He acknowledged writing inappropriate posts but claimed they had been directed at “bigots and extremists” and he had not meant any offense.
Activists had threatened to write to high profile foreign filmmakers to inform them about Shawky’s posts. The critic said he had been advised by security authorities to leave his home in Cairo after threats from soccer fans.
The festival has not yet announced who will take over the role of artistic director. Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Hefzy acts as festival president.