- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2000

CAIRO (AP) David slew Goliath, and then the Egyptian censor slew David.

Three thousand years after the biblical battle between the daring young shepherd and the armor-clad giant, the government censor ruled the Old Testament story, also found in Islam's holy Koran shows Israel in too positive a light.

"Presenting this subject now is not in line with the Egyptian social and political stance on the Palestinian uprising," said Madkour Thabet, head of the Audiovisual Censorship Authority.

He vetoed the production of a children's music cassette that would have included a song based on the tale, saying it was inappropriate at a time when Egypt and other Arab states have accused Israel of excessive use of force in confronting Palestinians.

More than 300 people have died in the current violence, the vast majority of them Palestinians, including children and youths, some of whom were throwing stones at Israeli troops.

A song about David, the Israelite shepherd who gathered five smooth stones and with one hurl of his slingshot felled Goliath, the heavily armed Philistine, was struck from a musical track that was to have been distributed in Egyptian churches.

Mr. Thabet, in a telephone interview with the Associated Press, said the producers of the music cassette understood the censors' decision.

But Ghada Tosson, one of the owners of Mirage Records, which was to produce the tape, said the censors have yet to formally advise the company of the decision to strike the David and Goliath song.

When it does, she added, the entire project will be shelved.

"The topic is not political at all. It has nothing to do with politics," she told the AP.

The track on the David and Goliath tale was the only one struck by the censors. The cassette on which it was to be used had been envisioned as the first of a series to teach Christian children various virtues by drawing on biblical characters.

The contents of the album lyrics and narration had been approved by Egypt's Coptic Christian Church, whose followers number about 10 percent of the mostly Muslim population of 65 million people. But Mr. Thabet said the church's opinion on the material was only relevant in so far as religious matters are concerned.

"Anything related to the political and social contexts is a different story," he added.

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