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Murder through drama in the Sisi era

May 4, 2021 at 11:15 am

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on June 3, 2015 [Adam Berry/Getty Images]

Egyptians woke up to the tragedy of the execution of nine prisoners convicted in the Kerdasa Police Station storming following the July 2013 military coup.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s regime has been one of the most prolific security apparatuses in executing death row inmates in recent years. But this time the situation was completely different since the military regime did not respect the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan and disregarded the fact that one of the prisoners was 80 years old. The regime also did not pay much attention to international and Egyptian human rights organisations’ appeals to reconsider the death penalty that the regime employs as a pretext to get rid of oppositionists, under the umbrella of a court sentence.

However, killing through television dramas is the newest method used by the Egyptian regime to eliminate dissidents. This time, it was through Al Ikhtiyar 2 (The Choice) series that depicts actual events that took place in Egypt after Al-Sisi’s coup against the first democratic experience in the country.

Sisi's Prisons - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Egypt Sisi’s Prisons – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The drama series embellished the image of this corrupt apparatus and exonerated it of all the crimes committed against the Egyptian people, starting from the Mubarak era until the oppression, showing the abuse and severe torture practiced under Al-Sisi’s rule. It also included a crude speech of incitement against the opposition in a new and continuous attempt to demonise anyone who dares to resist this military coup over the past eight years.

The dramatisation of the Kerdasa events is a blatant example of how TV drama is used to normalise murder during Ramadan. The series, which covered the infamous Kerdasa incident across two episodes, was merely a means to hypnotise the public and prepare people adequately for the announcement of the execution of seven defendants in the case.

READ: UN must stop politicised executions in Egypt, opposition groups say

Drama grips the mind touches the heart and guides the conscience to like or hate something. Even more than that, it sometimes pushes the audience to take hostile positions against a particular person or current, depending on the scriptwriter’s method of twisting or influencing the audience.

The obvious truth in the case of Al Ikhtiyar 2 is that the person who wrote the script and the one who issued the court rulings and approved the executions is the same person, or rather, a single military apparatus. The head of this apparatus is in the Heliopolis Palace. Its men operate in the general intelligence, military intelligence, and the department of moral affairs, and its arms are in national security and the Media Production City.

How can the people who Allah spared from getting their hands stained by the blood of innocent Egyptians during the Rabaa and Al-Nahda massacres eight years ago insist on having the blood of more innocent people, who were killed by the regime last week, on their hands? Many people consider Karim Abdel Aziz and Ahmed Mekky to be accomplices in this crime because they consented to act in such scenes. The scenes were full of lies, deceit, falsification of the truth, and the demonisation of others, making it easier for the regime to eliminate its opponents under the guise of Al Ikhtiyar 2 series.

In one of the scenes, Karim Abdel Aziz, who plays the role of a senior National Security officer, confirmed that the state refrains from storming or even entering or approaching the oppositionists’ houses, showing that the police do not arrest dissidents’ relatives, but instead target only the suspects, which is pure nonsense. For instance, this week, a security force affiliated with the Interior Ministry and National Security arrested Umm Abdul Rahman Al-Shuwaikh, along with her husband and daughter, simply because she published a letter written by her detained son recounting how he was sexually assaulted and tortured by the security forces inside the prison.

This Egyptian mother published a video two days later, announcing that she filed a complaint to the Public Prosecution Office to investigate the situation of her imprisoned son. However, it still does not make sense that the authorities deduced that this mother committed a crime, resulting in the Ministry of Interior arresting and imprisoning her for 15 days on charges of spreading fake news.

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Al-Sisi’s regime wants to replicate the narrative on which it has built its survival plan since the 2013 coup. This narrative includes seeking social division, having permission to kill the innocent, inciting against oppositionists, demonising Egyptians and spreading hate speech among citizens. All of this cannot be done better than by disseminating these ideas through a Ramadan soap opera. Consequently, the ruling system can broadcast this rotten story among Egyptians, making “Murder through drama in the Sisi era” the slogan of the current stage par excellence.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 30 April 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.