CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc held a political salon on Monday evening titled “The Group…Between History and Drama,” to critique the TV series, “Al-Gama’a,” which was broadcast during Ramadan sparking wide controversy.
“Al-Gama’a” was meant to narrate the history of the Brotherhood and their founder, Hassan El-Banna.
The panelists included a variety of history researchers and media experts including Vice President of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Wahid Abdel Meguid, Scriptwriter Ahmed Atta, media professor Manal Abou El Hassan and history researcher Hesham Hamada.
The panelists criticized renowned scriptwriter Wahid Hamed’s depiction of the Brotherhood in the series, describing it as “misleading” and “defamatory.”
“The historical context and events in the series should’ve been presented honestly and accurately, but Hamed intended to distort them,” Hamada said
“And the characters were presented with great exaggeration in their flaws, almost as caricatures in a series that’s not classified as a comedy,” he added.
According to the editor of Ikhwan online Abdel Gelil Al Sharnoubny, Hamed even altered the current state of the MB guidance bureau and turned it into a “gang’s headquarters” with the faint lighting and the intimidating atmosphere, depicting the Brotherhood as the “villain” and the government as the “superhero.”
The panelists condemned the fact that the TV series presented violence as a trait embedded in the Brotherhood’s ideology, referring to the opening episode of the series which portrays the Brotherhood’s infamous military parade four years ago.
“Violence is not an essential part of the Brotherhood, but the political circumstances and atmosphere around them pushed them towards violence at that time (late 30s until the 50s), unlike other terrorist groups whose ideology depends on violence,” Abdel Meguid said.
According to the historians in the salon, in 1936 a revolution broke out in Palestine against Jewish occupation.
The Brotherhood raised funds to support this revolution, but the Grand Mufti of Palestine at the time stated that the revolution was in dire need of weapons not money.
So the Brotherhood started buying weapons for the Palestinian revolutionaries, but because they had no experience in weapons, they ended up buying weapons that didn’t work and that’s what drove them to create the secret service and learn more about weapons industry and training.
The Brotherhood’s secret service was established between 1938 and 1940 and, according to the historians, their main objective was to fight the “Zionist invasion” of Palestine and the British occupation of Egypt.
“All political parties at that time (late 30s until the 50s) had a secret service including Al-Wafd Party, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party and even the National Democratic Party,” Hamada said.
“Mohamed Farid, Egypt’s renowned patriot and hero, was very interested in developing military operations and many military operations were executed with his approval,” he added.
However all the panelists condemned three acts of violence in the history of the Brotherhood and stressed that the political atmosphere in Egypt led some members of the Brotherhood astray, including the assassination of former Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud El-Noqrashy and Judge Ahmed El-Khazendar in 1948 by the hands of MB secret service.
In addition to the bombing of the Appeals Court in Bab El-Khalq in January 1949, where the MB secret service planted a bag full of explosives, but court employees were skeptical of the bag and moved it outside the court where it exploded.
El-Noqrashy was assassinated for ordering the dissolution of the Brotherhood and El-Khazendar was assassinated for issuing harsh sentences against MB members, most prominently sentencing MB members who assaulted British soldiers in Alexandria to penal labor for life in November 1947.
According to Hamda, the TV series’ depiction of the relationship between Al-Wafd Party and the MB as a “tense relationship” was also distorted.
“There was constant cooperation between El-Banna and Al-Wafd Party, but that part of history was completely omitted from the series,” he said.
A medical student in Cairo University and member of the MB, Taha criticized the series depiction of student members of the Brotherhood and described it as “misleading.”
He said that the TV series portrayed MB university students as brainwashed opportunists, who only care about material gain and accused university administrations of “intransigence” against MB students.
“I was expelled for a year because I discussed reform with the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and I was expelled another time because I called for virtue and chastity,” he said.
Taha added that his non-Muslim friends were also surprised at how the Brotherhood students were portrayed.
However Abou El-Hassan believed the TV series benefited the Brotherhood a great deal rather than distorted its image.
“The TV series stimulated the audience to go back to the history of the Brotherhood and read about them, it opened room for discussions, dialogue and controversy around the group,” she said.
“We can’t analyze and critique the information presented in the TV series, because it’s not about accurate information, it’s a drama and all its characters are from the creation of the director not from reality,” she added.
Scriptwriter Hamed had previously refuted claims that he was out to tarnish the group’s reputation.
“All I can say is that high viewer ship of the series proves the credibility of the facts I wrote,” Hamed had previously told Daily News Egypt.
“Despite all the criticism, Wahid Hamed remains a pioneer in addressing the so-called taboo issues and presenting them to the public, including the Brotherhood,” Al-Sharnouby said.