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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
Egypt bans 'too religious' Matrix
Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Reloaded
Keanu Reeves has to save the human race in The Matrix Reloaded
Global blockbuster The Matrix Reloaded has been banned in Egypt because of its "violent" content and because it tackles "religious themes".

The country's censorship board said the film's storyline, about the search for the creator and control of the human race, may cause "crises".

Violent scenes also had the potential to "harm social peace", a statement said.

The first Matrix movie was released in Egypt but was criticised by Islamic newspapers for promoting Zionism.

The country's most senior film committee, made up of 15 critics, academics, writers and psychologists, watched the sequel on Monday.

The press launched a campaign to stop showing the movie, saying that it reflects Zionist ideas
Wael Abdel Fatah
Egyptian film critic
A statement said: "Despite the high technology and fabulous effects of the movie, it explicitly handles the issue of existence and creation, which are related to the three divine religions, which we all respect and believe in."

The movie "tackles the issue of the creator and his creations, searching the origin of creation and the issue of compulsion and free will," it said.

"Such religious issues, raised in previous times, caused crises."

Violence also played a part in the decision, the committee said.

"Screening the movie may cause troubles and harm social peace," according to the statement.

One Egyptian critic, Wael Abdel Fatah, said: "The press launched a campaign to stop showing the movie, saying that it reflects Zionist ideas, and promotes Jewish and Zionist beliefs."

Box office smash

The film, a follow-up to the 1999 science fiction hit, is currently number one around the world.

In it, the human race is enslaved by artificially intelligent beings, and resistance fighter Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, is seen as their destined saviour.

It has taken almost $550m (£330m) at global box offices, putting it in the top 20 most successful films of all time.

Japan and Russia have become the latest countries to be gripped by Matrix fever after it broke box office records.

A further sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, will follow in November.


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