Terrorism and Kebab

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Terrorism and Kebab
Terrorism and kebab poster (1992).jpg
Directed bySherif Arafa
Written byWahid Hamed
StarringAdel Emam
Music byMoody Elemam ( Elimam )
Release date
Running time
105 minutes

Terrorism and Kebab (Arabic: الإرهاب والكباب‎, transliterated: Al-irhab wal kabab) is a popular 1992 Egyptian Black-comedy film starring Adel Emam.[1]


The Mogamma on Tahrir Square, Cairo

The action primarily takes place in The Mogamma in Cairo, a well-known mammoth-sized government building that is a center of bureaucratic work.[2][3][4] Adel Imam's character, Ahmed, queues up at the Mogamma one day to try to get a school transfer for his children, but gets bogged down. Endless lines of citizens march through the building and up and down its iconic spiral staircases seeking help. One government worker frustrates Ahmed particularly, because he is constantly praying in a show of alleged piousness to avoid getting any work done. This leads to a scuffle between the two, and eventually Ahmed ends up with a rifle from a guard and shots are fired in the resulting confusion. A mass spontaneous evacuation of the building ensues, Ahmed inadvertently takes the building hostage, and subsequently is assumed to be a terrorist. He is joined in his "takeover" by a few other "misfits," including Hind, a prostitute played by Yousra.

Ahmed and his new compatriots negotiate with the Minister of Interior, who fears the building will be blown up, and he demands kebab for all the hostages, as meat is too expensive for most Egyptians. Writer Wahid Hamed has described the symbolic meaning of the demand: "People don't know what they want ... They are crushed, their dreams are impossible, they can't believe their demands can be fulfilled, so they ask for kebab."[5]

As the film draws to a close, Ahmed orders the "hostages" to leave the building, and he will wait behind to meet up with the military police now ready to swarm the building, assuming he will be killed. The crowd, however, insists that he leave with them. Ahmed walks out unnoticed among his former "hostages", and the commandos find the building empty.[2][6][7][8]


The film has been described as a "classic Egyptian comedy about government corruption, bumbling and the good hearted nature of the sha'ab (people) of Egypt."[9] The film was a great success,[10] and has even been cited as the most popular Egyptian film of all time.[8] A 2007 poll of Egyptian critics taken by Al-Ahram newspaper listed the film as No. 15 on the 15 best Egyptian films of all time.[11]



  1. ^ Hedges, Chris (18 November 1992). Cairo Journal; That's Entertainment. But Is It Blasphemy, Too?, The New York Times, Retrieved December 13, 2010
  2. ^ a b Eltahawy, Mona (13 September 2005). The Real Surprise in Egypt, Asharq Al-Awsat, Retrieved December 13, 2010
  3. ^ (2 September 1992). Egypt's Media Target Islam With government backing, film and TV scriptwriters openly criticize religious extremism in their works, The Christian Science Monitor, Retrieved December 14, 2010
  4. ^ Murphy, Kim (24 May 1993). Woe Awaits in Tower of Babble, Los Angeles Times, Retrieved December 14, 2010
  5. ^ Abou El-Magd, Nadia (4 January 2001). Wahid Hamed: Time and again Archived 2010-11-09 at the Wayback Machine, Al-Ahram, Retrieved December 13, 2010
  6. ^ (9 October 2005). Red tape Mecca on its way out, Reading Eagle (from The Washington Post), Retrieved December 13, 2010
  7. ^ Atia, Tarek. (29 July 1999). Sherif Arafa: Movies on the way home Archived 2010-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, Al-Ahram, Retrieved December 16, 2010
  8. ^ Final Screening of the Middle East Film Series, Terrorism and Kebab (Irhab wa Kebab), Egypt, Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Retrieved December 13, 2010
  9. ^ Bronner, Ethan (31 January 1993). Actors, writers fighting tide of fundamentalism in Egypt, The Dallas Morning News, Retrieved December 16, 2010 (" perhaps the past year's most popular movie")
  10. ^ (12 July 2007). The best of Egyptian cinema, Daily News Egypt, Retrieved December 16, 2010

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