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Arabeyes: Mourning Youssef Chahine

Tributes are pouring in from bloggers from around the Middle East and North Africa, mourning the death of renowned Egyptian film maker Youssef Chahine. Born in Alexandria in 1926, Chahine has left behind a legacy, and millions of fans and followers across the region.

Egyptian Nora Younis says she is happy for Chahine and the legacy he left behind.

Chahine passed away few hours ago. I am happy for him. He lived over 82 years and at least 60 out of which were thorough, intense, and edgy experiences. Chahine has also enjoyed a peaceful – but surely not quiet – exit. I am sure his funeral will be a red carpet Cannes. It is scheduled for Tuesday 29th, in “Cinema City”, Nahhas Studios, Haram

Commenting on the post in Arabic, Egyptian Leftist says:

انا اكتر حاجه خلتني ازعل على وفاته ان كان نفسي اقلبله قبل مايموت و اتكلم معاه كدا و اتبادل معاه طرف الحديث و دا كان حلم
انا شوفته على الحقيقه مره واحده كنت شغال مصمم جرافيكس في احد الجرائد و كانت في ايامها الأولي و هو كان بيزور المكان كنوع من المباركه للجريده و اهلها و قد ايه كان انسان جميل بيهزر و يتريق على الكل …
ارتاح و سايب وراه تاريخ كبييير عظيم
ربنا يرحمه

What saddened me the most when I heard of his death was that I have always wanted to meet him and talk to him. This was my dream.
I have met him once, when I was working as a graphic designer in one of the newspapers, which had just started, and he was visiting the paper to congratulate it for its launch. He was a lovely person, who joked with everyone. He is at peace now and has left behind a great legacy. May his soul rest in peace.

Egyptian Chronicles reflects the sentiments of many toward Chahine's activism when she says:

Some call late Chahien as the greatest director in the history of Egyptian cinema due to the fact that he was known aboard especially in France “But not in Hollywood” , I disagree , he was not the greatest but he was different with daring visions that broke all the taboos whether religiously or socially.

Still in Egypt, Fustat sheds some light on the filmmaker's career, which spans from the '50s, and adds:

He was an inspiration to me, and one of my proudest moments as a blogger was when my article on Chahine was posted on his official website.
My condolences to his family. May God rest his soul.

Egyptian blogger Baheyya eulogizes Chahine, sharing details of his career within the full post:

When I read the sad news of Youssef Chahine’s passing, a stream of images from his films passed through my mind’s eye, fragmentary and disjointed images that have stayed with me over the years. The scenes are nearly all in black and white; some are hilarious and others sombre, some are central to the drama and others peripheral, some I remember for their sheer beauty and others because they drove me to tears or deep laughter.

At the other end of the Arabic-speaking world, Moroccan blogger Citoyen Hmida [fr] is just as saddened by Chahine's passing:

Youssef CHAHINE a été un artiste qui, par sa culture plurielle, a su apporter un souffle chaque fois renouvelé au cinéma égyptien. Reconnu tant dans son propre pays – malgré des attaques plus que véhémentes qui lui portèrent les intégristes – que dans les pays arabes et aussi en Europe – Ours d'argent au Festival de Berlin en 1978 et en 1997 le prix du cinquantième anniversaire du festival de Cannes pour l'ensemble de son œuvre – Youssef Chahine aura été un des plus grands intellectuels arabes du XXème siècle.

Youssef Chahine was an artist who, with his diverse background, has brought a breath of fresh air to the Egyptian cinema. Famous in his own country – despite vehement attacks stronger than those received by fundamentalists – as in Arab countries and also in Europe – he received the Ours d'argent at the Berlin Festival in 1978 and in 1997 awarded the fiftieth anniversary prize at the Cannes Festival for his body of work – Youssef Chahine has one of the twentieth century's leading Arab intellectuals.

Also in Morocco, Larbi [fr] shares a similar sentiment:

Avec sa mort, disparaît une icône et un citoyen du monde qui a contribué au dialogue interculturel et la promotion de la compréhension mutuelle. Un cinéaste qui a combattu, avec intelligence et élégance, le fanatisme religieux et l'autocratie là où il n'y a ni droits de l'homme ni liberté de croyance.

With his death, we have lost an icon and a global citizen who has contributed to intercultural dialogue and promoted mutual understanding. A filmmaker who fought, with intelligence and elegance, religious fanaticism and an autocracy where there is neither human rights nor freedom of belief.

From Kuwait, Jabriya Za7ma posts Chahine's picture with the following comment:

Adieu Chahine

Commentators on the post are all praying for Chahine's soul to rest in peace.

Another Kuwaiti blogger, K80Economics, pays a fitting tribute and writes:

A prominent Arab film maker passes away. He showed us how to best fight authoritarianism and fundamentalism: through art and culture. Art and culture are the light that sheds away extremism and the breath of fresh air upon which liberty thrives. May his soul rest in peace.

Moving back to the Maghreb, Tunisian Carpe Diem [fr] mourns Chahine and celebrates his good deeds:

La longue carrière de Youssef Chahine a été une lutte constante contre son milieu, qu'il voyait comme l'oppresseur des pauvres, contre le pouvoir, la censure dont il a souvent été la cible, il dénonçait la montée de l'extrémisme islamique et militait pour la tolérance. Autant de thèmes qu'il développait dans ses oeuvres.

The long career of Youssef Chahine has been a constant struggle against his environment, which he saw as the oppressor of the poor; against power and censorship of which he was often the target, he denounced the rise of Islamic extremism and campaigned for tolerance. He developed theses themes in his works.

Another Tunisian blogger, Diana MagaZine, demonstrates Chahine's reach:

I know that Youssef Chahin was very liberate and open minded man. He was against tolitarism and dictaturship. He was fighting for freedom. But what I cannot understand is this unanimous agreement of tn-blogs to commemortae the brave man. I never seen such agreement in tn-blogs. Even duiring the events of Redaif and Gafsa, there was no unanimity, but only divisions and breaks.

Blogger Critical Montages has compiled several videos demonstrating Chahine's best works. It is clear from the reactions of these bloggers and others that Chahine, his body of work, and his idealism will not soon be forgotten.

This post was written collaboratively with Amira Al Hussaini.

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