Al-Mehwar channel head denies ban on ‘Ahl Alexandria’
Belal Fadl - YOUM7 (Archive)
By RANDA EL-BANNA

CAIRO: Head of Media Production City Hassan Hamed announced that news regarding the ban of the new series “Ahl Alexandria” (People of Alexandria) is correct because the administrations of Al-Mehwar and Al-Hayah channels called him Sunday morning and said they will not air the television series due to pressure imposed by security officials, but he did not go into specifics, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Sunday.

Hamed said that he tried to contact security sources to determine the series’ fate before Ramadan, as the series is scheduled to air during the holy month which starts June 28. He said it would be a “huge loss” if the series did not air, Al-Masry Al-Youm added.

Series writer Bilal Fadl issued a statement of his own on his official Facebook page late Sunday condemning the decision of the two channels not to air the series. The series is written by Fadl, directed by Khairy Bishara, and stars Hisham Selim, Basma and Amr Waked.

Fadl added in his statement that the rejection of the two channels to air the series is a “masked ban”, and this according to Fadl “has never happened in Egypt before, even under [Hosni] Mubarak’s rule.”

Fadl asked artists, intellectuals and writers to stand in solidarity with him, not for the series, but for protecting their own freedom of expression in the future because freedom of creativity in Egypt he said has recently been subject “to secret orders from secret bodies that decide on behalf of people what to watch and what not to watch.”

Fadl also implied the series could have been banned due to some of the cast members’ opinions against the current political situation.

Waked said on his official Facebook account, “The series’ story goes back to 2010 and is about a corrupt police officer that gets punished by the Ministry of Interior just like the Tito movie, I do not see where the problem is.”

Tito was a popular 2004 film starring Ahmed el-Sakka and its story is about a criminal who as a young boy lacked role models and grew up to be a vicious, yet kind-hearted criminal.

Activists on Facebook and Twitter started a hashtag that translates into “Against the ban of ‘Ahl Alexandria’” where they opposed the ban on the series and posted article 67 of the 2013 constitution that says the State is obligated to respect freedom of expression.

Amr Salama, an Egyptian director, commented on his Facebook account Sunday that what is happening now “threatens to erase the revolution through arresting people, killing them and restricting freedom of expression.”

But despite the uproar, Al-Mehwar channel head Tarek al-Fatatry denied news regarding the ban on the series and said it will air on Al-Mehwar channel during Ramadan. Fatatry also added that Al-Mehwar did not receive any order to ban the program from security bodies, Al-Watan reported Sunday.

Head of state censorship in Egypt, Abdel Sattar Fathy, said that if the news about banning the series was true, then this would be the first time in Egypt such a thing has happened. He also added that security bodies never interceded to ban any film or series, but different bodies inform state censorship what they think and the final decision is in the hands of the censorship office, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Sunday.

A source in the Ministry of Interior told Al-Fagr news Sunday that there was no ban order for the series because of its content about a corrupt police officer, or because of Basma, Amr Waked or Belal Fadl being in the show.

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