Renowned journalist and screenwriter Belal Fadl announced that his TV series would not be shown during Ramadan at all on his personal Facebook page on Tuesday.
“The final verdict is that my TV series ‘Ahl Iskanderia’ (The People of Alexandria) will never see the light.”
Fadl said he was officially informed by Media Production City officials that the TV series he wrote, directed by Khairy Beshara, would not be aired during the upcoming month of Ramadan as initially scheduled.
He added that in a sudden development, Kuwait TV withdrew from its position as co-producer of the series, “despite their previous participation for months.”
On Sunday, Fadl announced that the series was not going to be screened on Satellite Al-Hayah or Al-Mehwar channels, which had previously agreed to air the TV drama, while some of the billboards are still in the streets of Cairo. Fadl said he was supposed to deliver the first eight episodes of the series to the channels on Sunday.
“This kind of masked censorship did not even happen in the era of Hosni Mubarak,” Fadl said.
According to Fadl, a Media Production City official told him the reason behind the withdrawal of Kuwait TV from production is their desire to avoid a crisis with the Egyptian government, “since the series involves elements that could upset the police or stir a political crisis.”
Kuwait TV will continue to produce other works that have been agreed upon without causing them embarrassment, “and it seems like this is the result of continuous pressure that I’m in no place to detail. However, those who follow the scene can easily predict them,” he added.
He emphasized that a lot of pressure was used to ban the series, including the refusal of state TV channels to buy or screen it, despite that fact that it was co-produced by Media Production City, which is a state facility.
In his previous statement, Fadl claimed that theoretically and legally there is no reason to ban or take the drama that is set pre-January 25 Revolution, off the screen, as it was approved by censorship.
“Nile Drama and other state-owned TV channels had refused to show the series because it criticizes a police officer, despite the fact he is punished by his supervisor. However, this was not said publicly, Fadl added.
Fadl also criticized the “appearance of a number of anti-January 25 Revolution media figures in a state of happiness, as some considered the banning of the series a victory for Egyptian people. Another said the series was anti-revolution, while a third insisted on distorting the image of all those who worked on it and accused them of treason — disturbing the image of the police, belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and working for foreign powers.”
“I feel bad for all the actors who worked hard on this show and will not see the results of their efforts on screen.” Fadl said earlier, calling upon actors and artists to stand against ”authoritarian decisions and abuse”.
The TV drama is directed by Khairy Beshara and stars Hesham Selim, Basma, Amr Wakked and Mohsena Tawfiq, who are known for their anti-regime opinions. Basma is also the wife of former MP and political science professor Amr Hamzawy, who has been banned from traveling since January.
Fadl previously attributed calls to boycott the show to “its revolutionary nature and the political stance of some of its cast members and writer.”
“I know many refuse to believe the fact that freedoms are deteriorating in Egypt every day. I’ve been warning against this for months through my articles published in Al-Shorouk newspaper, which were banned for similar reasons,” he said. “I know that many will use the excuses of maintaining stability to justify violations of public, political, and media freedoms.”
In February, Fadl announced he would not be continuing writing for Al-Shorouk after the privately owned daily newspaper banned an article he wrote about former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hassanein Heikal.
He also criticized “some who spoke with utter confidence about how the series will be screened eventually, and that this has been nothing but a publicity stunt,” adding that despite previous experience, they have forgotten that forcing a single opinion on people under the excuses of unity and stability will lead to none of these,” his statement concluded.