Egypt TV soapie banned over poor image of police

June 25, 2014 - 6:15:21 pm

CAIRO: An Egyptian television soap opera has been banned days before it was to be aired because the censors believe it shows police in a negative light, its scriptwriter said Wednesday.

"Ahl Alexandria" (the people of Alexandria, in Arabic), featuring a corrupt police officer, will not be aired during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan as planned, scriptwriter Belal Fadl told AFP.

Fadl said the head of the media production city, where satellite television channels are based, informed him that "networks that were going to broadcast the show, including the Mehwar and Al-Hayat channels ... have retracted from buying it."

"Even state channels which took part in the production of the show are now refusing to air it because censors indicated it gives a bad image of the police," Fadl said.

Kuwaiti television, which was participating in the production, has also announced its withdrawal from the project, according to the head of Al-Hayat.

The holy fasting month of Ramadan, when many Muslims stay at home with families in the evenings, is prime television viewing time across the Middle East.

Egyptian series in particular flourish during Ramadan, drawing in millions of viewers nightly across the region.

All Ramadan soap operas produced in Egypt, however, are reviewed by a television censorship board.

Police brutality was one of factors behind the 2011 uprising that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.

But since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, the police force has rehabilitated itself in public opinion, with many Egyptians supporting its crackdown on Islamists.

Gulf countries overwhelmingly hailed Mursi's ouster, pledging billions of dollars in aid to the country's military-installed authorities.

Since the 2011 uprising, the popular soap operas have often tackled political themes such as police abuses and state corruption.

But with the election as president of ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, his opponents fear a return to an autocratic rule that could curb freedoms and restore restrictions on artists. (AFP

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