EGYPT: Upcoming TV series angers Muslim Brotherhood
An upcoming television series about the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition and religious movement, is angering many group members, including the son of founder Hassan al-Banna.
The series called "Al Gama'a" ("The Group") is written by prominent scriptwriter Waheed Hamed and directed by Mohamed Yassin. It has been in production for nearly two years and is expected to be broadcast by Egyptian public television during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan in August.
Hamed has previously revealed that his script will focus on the first and most influential 20 years in the life of the Brotherhood as well as the biography of its founder. Nonetheless, Brotherhood leaders, who worry the series will be government propaganda against them, criticized Hamed for not allowing the group to review a copy of the script and to double-check historical facts.
"The main problem is Hamed's unwillingness to consult any of the group's leaders, who have been members long enough to know our history, while he was writing the script," Mohamed Habib, former Brotherhood deputy leader, has said.
Ahmed Seif el Islam al-Banna echoed Habib's quotes, saying that he "will not accept any production that deals with his father's life without verifying all the historical facts included."
Al-Banna said he would sue Hamed if the series slanders his father. There is no love lost between Hamed and the Brotherhood, especially since the writer has described the group and other Islamist organizations as leaning toward violence and serving their own interests in the name of religion.
Brotherhood members are troubled that Hamed's script might similarly defame their movement. Some suggested that it was no coincidence Egypt's public television would be showing the series less than two months before parliamentary (People's Assembly) elections. The Brotherhood, an outlawed political organization whose members ran as independents, controls about 20% of parliament.
"Both the ministers of information and culture are behind endorsing this production, which aims to defame the Brotherhood," said Brotherhood member Mohsen Radhi.
Hamed refuted claims that the series was sponsored by the government, stressing his confidence on the credibility of the sources and documents he relied on while writing the script: "If the Brotherhood has such a clean history as some of them claim, then why are they so afraid of my script even before it is shown?" he said.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Credit: AFP / Getty Images