CAIRO: The Cairo Economic Court for Urgent Cases on Tuesday turned down a lawsuit filed by the son of Hassan El-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), against the scriptwriter of “Al-Gama’a” and its producer, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU).
Seif El-Islam Hassan El-Banna had demanded a halt to airing the show, which recounts the history of the founding of the MB and the life of its founder Hassan El-Banna, during the month of Ramadan.
Since the first hearing was Tuesday, a few days after the month had ended, the timing had rendered the case irrelevant anyway. According to the MB’s official website, El-Banna said he’d file another law suit demanding banning reruns of the TV series on satellite or terrestrial television.
The case was filed before the economic court because it’s the entity in charge of resolving conflicts related to intellectual property rights, El-Banna had said.
He also requested that a committee of historians be formed to investigate the events depicted in the series, which he claims were fabricated for the purpose of defaming his father and the Brotherhood.
El-Banna accused scriptwriter Wahid Hamed of defamation, making false claims and attempting to distort the image of his father and the group, he previously told Daily News Egypt.
“All I can say is that high viewership of the series proves the credibility of the facts I wrote,” Hamed previously told Daily News Egypt.
Yet according to the MB website, the TV series has had a counter effect of triggering a boom in the sale of El-Banna’s memoirs and other books related to the Islamist group.
“The series has succeeded in presenting the Brotherhood’s beliefs to a certain extent and their conflict with the regime, to hundreds of millions of Arabic-speaking viewers. As a result, the series has raised consumer demand for El-Banna’s memoirs prompting interested generations who knew nothing about El-Banna to be educated on the founder’s life,” the group stated.
The book “The Group” sold 10 times more copies after the series started airing in Ramadan, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Publishers Federation, Assem Shalaby, was quoted as saying in press reports.
Before the series, the book was selling an average of 10,000 copies every six months; now, it’s selling at ten times this rate, he added.
The group said in an online statement that the series made viewers sympathize with and understand the cause of the MB. Prior to this, discussing the MB in any social, academic or professional setting was “forbidden”, the group said, adding that people had sought the book after the series was aired.
This is “the very opposite of what the initial intentions were when the series was made; which was to present members of the Brotherhood as extreme religious fanatics, without realistic goals or ideals,” the statement added.
Madbouly, one of Egypt’s leading bookstores, confirmed to Daily News Egypt, that the sales of Hassan El-Banna’s memoirs have “skyrocketed,” according to a salesman in the Downtown branch.
“Approximately 10 days after the series started airing, an increasing number of people were asking for El-Banna’s memoirs, especially the one titled ‘Hassan El-Banna’s Letters,’” he said.
On the other hand, the sales of other books about the Muslim Brotherhood were not affected and their sales remained low, except for publications by known figures such as Islamist lawyer Montasser El-Zayat.
The demand for the books mainly by older generations in their 50s and above, said the Madbouly salesman.
“Young people have their Facebook and the internet; they are not concerned with books,” he added.
In a press statement, the MB quoted editor of independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm Magdy Al-Gallad, who said that the anti-MB Wahid Hamed may have done the group a favor, as the series has helped promote the Brotherhood among segments of Egyptian society which the group couldn’t have reached otherwise.