‘Homeland’ Palestinian Actor Mohammad Bakri Cancels El Gouna Festival Visit Over Deportation of Compatriot Said Zagha

Iconic Palestinian actor-director Mohammad Bakri has canceled his visit to Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival over the issue of U.K.-based Palestinian filmmaker Said Zagha being deported from the country without being allowed to enter.

Bakri, whose acting credits include “Homeland,” “The Stranger” and “The Bureau,” was due to be honored with a career achievement award at the festival on Wednesday.

However, on Tuesday, Bakri released a statement in Arabic saying he has canceled his visit in protest against the deportation of Zagha and other Palestinians who arrived at Cairo airport and were barred from entering Egyptian territory.

Bakri said he doesn’t hold festival organizers responsible, but hoped that management will seek to find out who is behind the deportation.

When asked about the deportation of Palestinians from Egypt, Zagha told Variety, “While I don’t know the definite answer, there appears to be systemic mistreatment of Palestinians at Egyptian border control. There are plenty of precedents indicating this, including with world-class actor Ali Suliman and Palestinian cinematographer Ehab Assal (who shot the Oscar-nominated ‘Omar’). Both of them had endured similar ordeals.”

Variety has reached out to festival organizers and Bakri for comment.

More to come.

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