The broadcasting of any “romantic” songs or music videos on Egyptian state television channels has been banned, a state-run newspaper announced on Thursday, adding that only “patriotic” tunes will be allowed to be aired.
Nationalistic tunes “that are worth broadcasting” will be allowed on the country’s 23 state-owned channels, the al-Ahram news website reported.
Meanwhile, sarcastic songs mocking public figures will be also banned because of the “sensitiveness of the political situation,” it said.
The surprise move comes amid political upheaval sweeping the country in recent weeks after Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi set a controversial referendum on a new constitution in Egypt due to start Saturday.
The referendum looks set to further split the country after the opposition called for a ‘no’ vote and imposed conditions that could yet result in its boycott.
The draft constitution, that was drawn up by an Islamist-led drafting assembly, last month, has become the focus of Egypt's worst political crisis since Mursi’s election in June.
The opposition, made up of secular, liberal, leftwing and Christian groups, has said it will escalate its protests to scupper the referendum.
It views the new constitution, largely drawn up by Mursi's Islamist allies, as undermining human rights, the rights of women, religious minorities, and curtailing the independence of the judiciary.
Online, social media users have already begun question the ban on romantic musical interludes. Twitter user @dinaelhusseiny asked whether the ban would be temporary, but the state newspaper is yet to provide such details.
Other reactions from the microblogging site include a post from user @_amroali, asking: “How do romantic songs cause chaos?”
Commenters were also reposting the phrase “Egypt kills love.”
But Egyptian blogger Mina Naguib, who has written widely on recent political instability in the country, doubts the authenticity of the news and has suggested it could all just be a rumor; a tool he believes is used by officials to “distract” Egyptians.
“I am waiting for a confirmation or a denial, because this just hilarious that such a decision could be made now,” Naguib told Al Arabiya English.
He likened the news to a decision announced in recent months that intimate scenes be cut from Egyptian films dating back to the 70s.
“It was reported by Egyptian media and even a TV chief had signed documentation to go ahead with the move, but it was later dismissed as ‘a misunderstanding.’
“These are rumors spread about to distract journalists and activists and give them something to talk about. Right now, they want to distract us from talk about the constitution,” Naguib added.