The second season of the Al-Gama’a series, written by Egyptian scriptwriter and researcher Waheed Hamed, was aired during the holy month of Ramadan. Like the first season, it stirred a lot of controversy.
The first season was aired in 2010 when the Brotherhood had heavy political weight and shortly before they ruled the country. The first season and its writer Hamed angered the Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the second one angered the Nasserites and the Brotherhood continued to have its grudges.
Many Nasserites who view late Egyptian President Gamal Abdelnasser as the first “symbol of right” were angry that the series frankly mentioned that revolutionary “officer” Abdelnasser was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood while he was forming the "Association of Free Officers” and that he worked under the name “Zaghloul” before he exited the Brotherhood’s ranks and other political parties.
Sami Sharaf, who served as minister of state for presidential affairs during Abdelnasser’s term, said the latter was never a Brotherhood member. However, he quoted Abdelnasser as saying that he “passed” or “went” through all political parties at the time, including The Wafd Party, The Young Egypt Party, The Communist Party and of course the Brotherhood, but he did not find himself in any of them.
Hamed who in all fairness clearly made huge efforts doing his research said during the television talk show Kol Youm (Everyday) hosted by Amr Adeeb on ONTV that “many memoirs and books, such as the memoirs of Kamal Eddine Hussein and Wahid Ramadan, and a book by a member of the Association of Free Officers, Gamal Hammad, confirm Abdelnasser belonged to the Brotherhood in 1944.”
The only movie about modern Arab history that later became a “classic” is Lawrence of Arabia and it is written and directed from a western perspectiveMashari Althaydi
In all cases, political historical drama is about “perspective” in some parts and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the writer has done his work researching and gathering information from valid sources.
“Inspiring” figures like Abdelnasser are always controversial. Such figures have their own admirers who somehow glorify them and exalt them beyond any objective perspective.
However, the controversy stirred by the series leads us to a more important question not just in Egypt but in the entire Arab world and it is about the weakness of historical drama productions when analyzing events and characters that formed our awareness and whose practical effects greatly influenced our reality. There are many examples to that.
The only movie about modern Arab history that later became a “classic” is Lawrence of Arabia and it is written and directed from a western perspective.
Events and characters can be analyzed differently and can thus be portrayed in many ways. In the end though, viewers are the ones who benefit as these works either entertain them or empower them with more knowledge.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.