Conflicting reports have circulated on the banning of Ramadan TV series 'Ahl Alexandria', written by Belal Fadl and starring Amr Waked and Basma.
Egypt may not have an appointed a Minister of Information, but that hasn't stopped security officials from banning a new series this Ramadan. According to an announcement made by Head of Media Production City Hassan Hamed, the series “Ahl Alexandria” is being banned, after the administrations of Al-Mehwar and Al-Hayah decided to cave under the pressure of security officials.
Following the announcement, series writer Belal Fadl took to Facebook to condemn the decision of the two channels, claiming that they are victims of a “masked ban,” adding “this has never happened in Egypt before, even under Mubarak's rule.
Fadl called out to artists, intellectuals and writers to stand in solidarity with him, not for the series, but for the freedom of expression and creativity, and to stop “the secret orders from secret bodies that decide on behalf of the people what to watch and what not to watch."
Joining him on Facebook is one of the cast members, Amr Waked, who posted, “The series’ story goes back to 2010 and is about a corrupt police officer who gets punished by the Ministry of Interior, just like the film Tito. I do not see where the problem is.” The film he refers to is a popular 2004 film that starred Ahmed el-Sakka, and is about a boy who lacked role models and grew up to be a vicious, but kind-hearted criminal.
Activists on Facebook and Twitter have started a hashtag that translates into “Against the ban of 'Ahl Alexandria'” and opposes the ban on the series, with users referring to article 67 of the 2014 constitution that guarantees freedom of expression.
The fate of the series is still somewhat up in the air, as different news outlet reported that the news of the ban is untrue. Al-Masry Al-Youm's report on Sunday that the Head of State Censorship, Abdel Sattar Fathy, doubts the ban, claiming it would be the first time in Egypt that such a thing happened. Meanwhile, an unnamed source in the Ministry of Interior tells Al-Fagr news that there was no ban order for the series because of its content on police corruption, or the political affiliations of actors Basma and Amr Waked, or screenwriter Belal Fadl.
Time will tell whether the series will be banned or not, but the news has reignited fears of state-sponsored censorship returning.