Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:11 am (KSA) 21:11 pm (GMT)

Egyptians slam TV series as govt propaganda

A scene from the TV series al-Jama'a (File)
A scene from the TV series al-Jama'a (File)

Egypt’s most popular Ramadan television series, al-Jama’a, (The Group) has created a controversial hype over its ‘propaganda’ portrayal of the country’s opposition, the UAE-based newspaper The National reports.

Al-Jama’a series which showcases the history of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood since the group's foundation has received mounting criticism for showing of what some viewers and critics call a glaring government overt propaganda to discredit the denunciated Islamist group by the Egyptian government.

Recently the Brotherhood was banned from running as a political party in the upcoming November election but still has a wide popularity base in the conservative and religious Egyptian society.

A group has been created on social networking site Facebook called “Hear from us, not about us: Egyptians against forging history from the scriptwriter of despicable movies.”

Only after a week of episodes showing in the month-long series the group geared a support of 3,000 members.

“More merciful than nurses”

Islamic activism in Egypt can lead to imprisonment and extended stays in detention centers. Egyptian police have several times been accused of maltreating political prisoners.

“I’m furious, especially how it portrayed state security officers as being so nice while interrogating us and offering us tea and coffee,” said Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, 31, a journalist who has been imprisoned for membership on the Muslim Brotherhood.

“He showed the police as more merciful than nurses. It’s unbelievable and outrageous,” added Mahmoud, criticizing the series writer Wahid Hamed.

Known for tackling heated topics such as government corruption and terrorism, Wahid Hamed has previously poured fuel on the fire in his 1993 series “The Family,” where he was accused of being unfair and superficial in addressing extremism and terrorism.

The early days

In al-Jama’a the audience is taken back to the early days of the group’s humble beginning in 1928 as an anti-colonial movement. The group later sprouted into a violent grassroots organization whose popularity among the masses threatened mainstream politicians and set the alarm for secularists in the whole region.

It begins by recounting the life of the founder of the Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna.

The first part of the 2-part series showcases him from a talented student, natural-born leader and devout Muslim, to an intellectual founding father of modern day political Islam.

The first episode culminates with al-Banna’s murder in 1949 by state security agents for his alleged role in the killing of the Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Noqrashy

Al-Banna’s family have criticized the portrayal of their father as a religious radial.

“Hamed is injecting poison in honey,” said Saif al-Islam, al-Banna’s son.

“He’s laying the ground against the group, by showing my father as a fanatic since his childhood, which is not true. He was a moderate leader with a vision of the first Islamic group that influenced all other groups.”

The Brotherhood’s spokesman, Essam al-Eryan, who spent the better part of a decade languishing in prison because of his affiliation with the Islamist movement, called the series “black propaganda” inspired by the authorities and aimed at damaging the group’s reputation.

“We’re used to these smear campaigns, ever since the days of Nasser, which never ceased,” said al-Eryan, referring to the former Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser,who jailed and tortured members of the Brotherhood after an attempt to assassinate him in 1954.

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