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Outcry as Egypt's Ramadan series portrays Rabaa massacre as peaceful

A girl gestures during a protest marking the fourth anniversary of Rabaa El Adaweya massacre in Times Square of Manhattan borough of New York, United States on 13 August 2017. [Mohammed Elshamy - Anadolu Agency]
A girl gestures during a protest marking the fourth anniversary of Rabaa El Adaweya massacre in Times Square of Manhattan borough of New York, United States on 13 August 2017. [Mohammed Elshamy - Anadolu Agency]

There has been an outcry online after an episode of Egypt's Ramadan drama, The Choice 2, re-enacted the Rabaa massacre, but from the perspective of the security forces.

The series, which is produced by Synergy, a production company owned by Egypt's intelligence services, depicts the protesters as armed and violent and as having attacked security forces as they entered the square.

Contrary to the narrative put forward in this drama, human rights organisations have documented how on 14 August 2013 security forces under the command of then Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi entered the square where demonstrators were camped out, shooting into the crowd.

They bulldozed over people, set fire to tents, and put Rabaa Square under siege so nobody could leave. Authorities instructed pharmacies surrounding the square not to administer medicine to the wounded.

Human Rights Watch has said that the dispersal of Rabaa was the "worst killing of protesters in Egypt's modern history."

Around 1,000 people are thought to have been killed that day, though the real figure has never been determined due to government secrecy.

READ: 300% rise in executions in Egypt

During the drama, colonels discuss how the Rabaa protests were violent and aim to divide the country and fuel unrest. Pro-government Twitter users have said it exposes Brotherhood lies.

Scenes from the episode show members of the Muslim Brotherhood shooting at Egyptian security forces.

However, following the airing of the Rabaa episode, the hashtag Alkhtiyar2 – the Arabic name for the series – was trending.

Journalists and other prominent personalities posted images and videos from the massacre to discredit the narrative put forward in The Choice 2.

Many slammed Egyptian authorities for using a TV drama to perpetuate the view that the opposition are violent, and the army are the peaceful heroes.

During his time in power Al-Sisi has consolidated his control over soap operas as part of a widespread tightening on censorship.

Last year Synergy made 15 of the 25 soaps made for Ramadan, many of which showed police officers as heroes fighting the evil or terrorist opposition figures.

A regulatory agency overseeing the entertainment industry has said shows must have no sex scenes, blasphemy or politics and that police officers must come across favourably.

Rabaa Massacre - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Rabaa Massacre – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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