Palestinians enraged over ‘pornographic’ film that exposes shocking flaws in Palestinian society

“Huda’s Salon” infuriates enemies of the Jewish state by demeaning the Palestinian struggle against the “Israeli occupation,” disrespecting Islam.

By World Israel News Staff

A Palestinian film titled “Huda’s Salon” enraged Palestinians over alleged attempts to distort the image of the Palestinian people and scenes described as “pornographic,” Ynet reported. 

The psychological thriller received positive feedback at the Toronto Film Festival last year but has caused an uproar in the Middle East. Audiences are accusing the filmmakers of insulting the Palestinian struggle against the “Israeli occupation” and dishonoring Islam by showcasing nude content

The film’s protagonist “Reem,” played by actress Maisa Abd Elhadi from Nazareth, is drugged and photographed with a stranger in full nude by another Palestinian woman. The woman, Huda, then blackmails Reem into becoming an informant for the Israeli Secret Service (Shin Bet).

The Palestinian filmmaker, Hany Abu-Assaid, appears to criticize not only Israel, but also the Palestinian Authority and the prevailing gender inequality in Palestinian society.

“[Arab women] understand exactly how vulnerable they are in a society where some of the men are misogynistic and will prefer to punish the victim rather than to lose their authority,” Abu-Assaid was quoted as saying in an interview with film-review site Hammer to Nail.

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An estimated 29% of Palestinian women are victims of gender-based violence, and in the Gaza Strip alone this number increases to 38%, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) 2019 Violence Survey.

The PCBS also recorded 149 cases of femicide (intentional hate crime against women) from 2015 to 2020 in the Palestinian Authority, with the highest percentage reaching 25% in 2020.

PA TV aired an episode in 2017 instructing male viewers how to “use beatings and violence to solve their marital problems” in accordance with the Quran, according to Palestinian Media Watch.

While some viewers commend the filmmaker on raising awareness of sexual harassment and opening a dialogue surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many in the Arab world have called to boycott the project.

In an attempt to dissociate themselves from the film, the Palestinian Culture Ministry wrote in a statement that “the film violates the image of the Palestinian people and it is against its principles,” Ynet reported. 

Palestinian Authority Sharia Judge and Advisor of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habbash called the movie “filth” and wants its creators and associates punished, according to Al-Shabab radio. 

“We have raised a case to prosecute those who offended the homeland, honor and religion,” al-Habbash was quoted as saying in an exclusive radio interview. “Everyone who committed or contributed to [this film] should also be held accountable,” he added.

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Hamas also weighed in. ”The film infringes on the struggle of the Palestinian people. This misrepresentation deals with the issue of contacting the occupation in a wrong and offensive way, the facts are missing,” the Gaza-based terror group stated, according to Ynet.

“We call upon the officials and civil society to boycott it,” the statement said. 

Director Abu-Assaid said that the film is based on true events during which the Israeli Secret Service would use what he described as unethical means to turn Palestinian women into informants. Its purpose, the director said, is to inspire questions concerning Palestinian societal norms, reported Hammer to Nail.

“The great challenge of the film was not to outright say who is the victim and who is the offender. It is not impossible that the one you consider the offender may be the victim herself,” said Abu Assaid, as quoted by Ynet. 

Huda’s character is quoted in the movie as saying: “It’s easier to occupy a society that’s already oppressing itself,” the character Huda says in the film.