Thursday, 15 June 2017

Drama and history




If it is allowed to turn the biographies of prophets, messengers and pious men into TV series... and scenario writers stopped at the time when that prophet was contemplating about the nature of God, like prophet Ibrahim for example who worshipped the sun and then moon until the truth dawned on him and he believed that God is the one worth worshipping.

Another example, if those writers stopped at the time when a pious man like Omar ibn al-Khattab was atheist and they gave some details about this period of time in his life... Will anyone say that this is not true, thinking that such thing may degrade the status of the prophecy, message or the stature of those pious men who accompanied the prophet?... there is nothing shameful that prophets like Ibrahim, Moses and others reached the truth after they experienced times of atheism or did bad acts in their lives.

That is what I thought of when I followed the controversy over the TV series called al-Gama’aa or muslim brotherhood; that series supposed to narrate the history of muslim brotherhood… I did not care much as I consider this series a part of consecutive artistic works aiming at defaming the July, 1952 revolution and Nasser… such series of artistic works started early and contained what one can describe as inappropriate and untrue in terms of art critic and historical critic criteria. If we are about to count the articles, seminars, lectures, series and movies that had the same target of defaming the character of Nasser and smearing the image of July revolution, we will have unlimited book volumes and CDs… adding to this the efforts of other regional intelligence agencies here in our region and oversees as well and the billions spent on this. However, Nasser and the revolution stayed in the Arab and Egyptian collective conscience… also in other far stretches in Asia, Africa and Latin America… both Nasser and the revolution still occupy a great position in the heart and minds of people.

What I wanted to point to is the TV series’ conceited author who behaves like a God accepting no criticism… also that one whom they call the historian responsible for auditing the historical material and who described himself in his reply to what Dr. Khaled Montasser wrote in Al-Wattan newspaper, as the professor committed to the strict rules of scientific discipline… he also described Dr. Khaled as acting the same role of actor Abdel-Fattah al-Asri in the movie titled “al-Ostaza Fatma”.

Such unbelievable conceited behavior was not in any way present when we had noble knights like Alfred Farag, No’man Ashour, Mikhail Roman, Mahmoud Diab, Muhammed Galal Abdel-Qawi, Mahmoud Abu-Zaid, Abdel-Hai Adeeb, Faisal Nada, Mahfouz Abdel-Rahman, Osama Anwar Okasha… and others. I mentioned those people without chronological or status order as they will ever be a sweet-scented bouquet of flowers in the course of drama in general.

Such conceited behavior can only be found in those who lost their goal… and so they consider themselves sacred and above critic and criticism and seek the help of others who have the same empty conceited behavior and outrageous ability to misinterpret the historical material in order to achieve their targeted goal.

In this regard, I recall a bad memory with that so-called auditor of the historical material… it is a recorded episode you can find on Youtube interviewed by media figure Toni Khalifa… in this episode, I asked the other party; the auditor, to commit to the rules of research discipline of the science of history when he used to give his judgments and use the comparative form like “worse”, “dirtier” to the end of this… his reply was that we are not in a research hall in the university… I then replied that TV has more serious and profound effect on common people awareness than research hall and so it is more mandatory to commit to those rules.

I discovered that one of the reasons lying behind such behavior apparent in most of his interviews is that he was taught by another one who once flouted the rules of scientific discipline in studying history.

I remember the day when a PhD student was discussing a thesis about Sa’ad Zaghloul and his role in the political life… we were at the beginning of the seventies… the thesis supervisor – my professor, the late honorable Ahmed Abdel-Rahim Mustafa – wanted to do a favor to his student and so he brought someone whom he thought would sympathize ideologically with the researcher and enlisted him as a member of the discussion committee; that was the late great Ismail Sabri Abdallah who, once he finished his overall remarks over the thesis, throw his bombing words saying to then-PhD student: “You deviated from the proper scientific discipline when you dealt with Sa’ad Zaghloul as a revolutionary leader while he was a reformist one as he accepted to work in the regime institutions; parliament and cabinet… and so you kept misinterpreting the historical material to prove your point of view criticizing Sa’ad Pasha”.

That student later became a professor who supervised another student; that is the auditor of the historical material of that TV series… he committed the same deviation in research disciplines which his professor did before… and so I laughed when I remembered his description of Dr. Khaled Montasser as I remembered another movie when the actor Stephan Rosti said to Muhammed Tawfiq; another actor, who missed his target and shot him instead: “damn the one who taught you how to use it”.

Indeed, the blame in this respect should be for the one who did not teach his student how to use tools of scientific discipline properly… also, he should have taught him not to impose his ideological and psychological personal conceptions on the subject being researched… as in doing so, he would have messed with the material being researched.

I hesitated a lot before writing about this series… and then I chose to write some notes around it… the secret behind my hesitation is that the case became like one forcing himself to eat rotten food. Also, the image of Nasser and July revolution will not be affected in the collective conscience of the nation and other free nations just because a drama writer thought he is one of a kind as there are no real efficient peers to compare himself to… and so he decided to seek help from an unknown historian as the knowledgeable and efficient ones do not reply quickly to his requests… also, it is more difficult to deal with them unlike that unknown one who will rush to answer the request.

The last thing that made me put an end to this thing and not come back again to it is that our country needs every effort to bring its renaissance back and push its social powers to work and get busy interacting with the present and future more than opening the old files of Salah ed-Din ibn Ayyub and messing with Egypt political history in the fifties and sixties of the last century.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar



This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on June 15, 2017.

To see the original article, go to:


#alahram #ahmed_elgammal #drama #history