Muslim Brotherhood ashamed of their history
A scene from the TV show, photo via assistnews.net
The Egyptian government has given the Muslim Brotherhood the media coverage they rightfully deserve, reports Assad Elepty, special to ASSIST News Service.
The production of “Al-Gama’a,” a television series about the Brotherhood and their founder Hassan Al-Banna has met with opposition from the Brotherhood.
The series gives an accurate account of the legacy of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood however considers the series portrays the negative and black history of this banned party.
The series highlights how the values the Muslim Brotherhood have adversely affected Egypt and their ideology and values are seen as the norm in Egyptian society.
The controversial series, named “Al-Gama’a”, was broadcast daily at prime viewing time during Ramadan this year.
It depicted the foundation and early development of the Muslim Brotherhood through the life of its founder Hassan Al-Banna.
The Muslim Brotherhood members ashamed of having their true history screened for the nation to digest have labeled the series “blatant propaganda”.
In a desperate bid to suppress “the exposure their roots becoming common knowledge”, the Brotherhood attempted to secure an injunction to prevent the show from broadcasting.
The government, in it wisdom did not respond, opting to let the Muslim Brotherhood expose itself to be the enemy of freedom of speech.
The drama serial exposed Al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood “as a radical fanatic". The series also exposed the Muslim Brotherhood connections to a series of assassinations and attacks on Cairo’s Jewish quarter in the 1940s—accusations the group now denies.
The writer of the series, Wahed Hamid, is known as a critic of political Islam but also of the government.
The government sought to expose religious extremists from all religions as the enemies of Egypt, their people and the values of moderate Islam.
In this case, the strategy seems to have backfired as the show depicted an “Islam versus secularism” worldview with the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the state, as the strongest defender of Islam and Egyptian society against Western influences.
In portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as aggressively anti-British, anti-Jewish and anti-secular, the characters actually spoke to some of the discourses that have widespread popularity in Egyptian society.
The Egyptian government avoids using the term secular, preferring to describe Egypt as a civil not a secular state. This is to avoid the connotations that come with the term secularism. For many Egyptians, including Al-Banna, secularism means atheism or kafir, and this is considered by some to be almost an existential threat to Islam.
On the dark side, some Egyptians voiced admiration for Al-Banna’s character in standing up for a cause. In a climate of political apathy, social stagnation and a lack of real choices, this can be appealing, regardless of whether you agree with the cause or methods.
The show did highlight the Muslim Brotherhood’s lack of a coherent political program.
The significance of Al-Gama’a is found not only in its content, which would inevitably cast the Muslim Brotherhood and its founder in a negative light, but also in its very existence.
The state took a risk in allowing the series to go ahead, even investing a reported 22 million Egyptian pounds in its production. Normally, government strategy has been to marginalize the Muslim Brotherhood from the media in an effort to make the group invisible in the public conscience.
In official state media, the Muslim Brotherhood is usually referred to only as “Al-Mahthoora,” meaning the forbidden group.
Yet the effect of this series was to create a space to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood openly.
Raouf Ashm, the manager of the Cairo bookstore, Madbouly, noted a significant increase in demand for books on the Muslim Brotherhood, and particularly on Hassan Al-Banna. He claims that after the series started, sales increased by 45 percent. But while the series clearly made an impact at the time it was broadcast, if it was the government’s intention to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood and their campaign for the parliamentary elections, then the long-term impact should be considered.
Although interest in understanding the Muslim Brotherhood may have increased, it is unlikely that the series either gained or cost them any significant support. There is a sense that the government made a wrong move in the war of media and propaganda. Nevertheless, the media will remain a key battleground.
Both the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood recognize the power of the media. The state has made dramatic moves to restrict the independent media prior to elections, while the Muslim Brotherhood has increased efforts to improve its image through the use of new media—even establishing an alternative to Facebook, called http://www.ikhwanbook.com/
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