Egyptian Screenwriter Waheed Hamed


Aired in Ramadan 2010, the first part of El-Gamaa came
in 28 Episodes retelling the origins of The Society of the Muslim Brotherhood
and the fully detailed story of its founder Hassan al-Banna starting with his
childhood until the circumstances that yielded to his assassination in 1949. However,
in the following year 2011, Egypt saw a revolution and a wide period of
instability that delayed the production of the second part as promised by its screenwriter
Waheed Hamed. When the Brotherhood finally rose to power and one of their
members Mohamed Morsi was elected as Egyptian president in 2012, their minister
of information Salah Abd El-Maksoud banned the first part from being rerun on
Egyptian media. Another revolution then exploded in 2013 and another
instability put the follow-up part yet again in hiatus. Nevertheless, during
that period between 2010 and 2017, Hamed was working hard on researching and
writing the script of this second part that will see the light finally this
Ramadan. The new 30 Episodes will depict the exploits of the Muslim Brotherhood
under the leadership of their second Morshid (General Guide) Hassan
El-Hodeiby (Abd El-Aziz Makhyoun) and their conflicts with King Farouk (Mohamed
El-Bayaa) then President Nasser not to mention the rise of their figurehead Sayed
Kotb (Mohamed Fahim) whose ideologies and books became the bases of violent Jihadism
from then until nowadays. An interview with the serials’ creator and
screenwriter, the acclaimed Waheed Hamed:
SA: Why did you choose to name the serials al-Gamaa
(The Society) and not Gamaa El-Ekhwan (The
Society of the Muslim
Brotherhood) to make the title more distinctive?
WH: For everyone, if you say al-Gamaa it will
immediately refer to the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, I will reveal for you
something I did not mention before. Al-Gamaa has the same syllable of Al-Essaba
(The Gang) is Arabic and this is the title of the serial indirectly refers to.
SA: In 2010, the first part suddenly ended in 28 episodes
without showing the assassination of Hassan El-Banna as it historically
happened. Superbly played by Eyad Nassar in the first part, El-Banna was
depicted as defeated by the rest of the Brotherhood who take over his power and
even regretful for establishing the Brotherhood and whished for going back to
teach religion to hundred young ones.
WH: Historically, El-Banna morally died before his
assassination. He was powerless against the other members of the Brotherhood
who took over. I did not want to close the curtains on the first part with an
assassination because it assassination is a crime. What interested me is to
show the death of the idea rather the death of its founder. Moreover, I think
that if El-Banna wasn’t assassinated and continued live, the Brotherhood would
have died with him of natural causes. Although El-Banna showed modesty, he used
to be media man who loved the lights and loved to be have names like Al-Imam or
Man of the Light.
SA: Before the airing of the first part and the presidency
of Morsi, many of the younger generations would have heard of the Brotherhood
and the ways. In founding the Brotherhood, it was said that El-Banna was also influenced
by non-Islamic ideology.
WH: I can say that El-Banna was influenced by Masonry, Fascism,
Zionism and Shia that he studied very well. There are symmetries between the rules
of the Muslim Brotherhood and those of Freemasonry: oath, allegiance and,
complete secrecy and absolute obedience. El-Banna was also heavily influenced
by the order of the Assassins (Hashshashin), a branch of Shia that existed in
the eleventh century as founded by Hassan El-Sabbah. The proof: Even before
joining the Brotherhood, Sayed Kotb himself used to address Hassan El-Banna as
Hassan El-Sabbah. It was Egyptian novelist Abbas al-Aqqad who said that Hassan
El-Banna was of Moroccan Jewish descent. But from our side, we didn’t have information
about El-Banna’s grandfather. Only we knew of his father who was a mosque
teacher and of his childhood where he learned how to fix watches hence he was
nicknamed Hassan El-Saaty (The Watchmaker) hence this shows a meticulous
character.
SA: The second part of El-Gamaa focuses on the conflict
between Nasser and the Brotherhood, especially with Sayed Kotb whose ideologies
were said to initiate violence. Can you elaborate on that?
WH: Kotb used to work for years in Ministry of Education,
hence with the government, with aims to be promoted as minister. When this
seemed to be impossible, he switched sides and joined the Brotherhood where he
became chief editor of their magazine. Kotb’s ideas and books were mostly
influenced by the ideas of the Pakistani Abul A’la Maududi. Unlike stories about
him being tortured in prison, Kotb spent most of his incarceration at the
prison’s hospital due his health conditions. Due to their friendship since the
days that preceded the 1952 revolution, President Nasser gave orders that books
and publications are permitted to reach Kotb during his imprisonment. However,
Kotb conspired two times with the Brotherhood to assassinate President Nasser.
The first was in the famous El-Mansheya Incident 1954 which resulted in his imprisonment.
Kotb was let out of prison at the end of 1964 at the behest of the Prime
Minister of Iraq, Abdel- Salam Arif, for only 8 months before being rearrested
in August 1965 and accused of plotting to overthrow the state. These events
will be dramatically depicted in the second part.
SA: What’s the importance of El-Gamaa serials during our
current times?
WH: El-Gamaa is not your regular TV serial. It is a
challenge where I must rewrite history in an adequate dramatic form that can be
digested by a wide range of viewers, regardless their age or culture. It was an
abnormal effort in researching and writing the episodes. The first part of
El-Gamaa helped the viewer to get introduced to their origins and the second
part will continue to do so. I think that all the first part’s events were
brought to real life during the period of Morsi’s presidency (2012-2013). The
part of the people who were had delusions that the Brotherhood are good
religious people who wanted Islam to prevail finally discovered the truth: They
are not a religious group but they are a political and economic group. The
Muslim Brotherhood has a very strong economy within Egypt that can compete with
the local economy of the country until now.
SA: Speaking of the economy, they are still satellite
channels broadcasting from Turkey and obviously funded by the Brotherhood
against Egypt.
WH: Although we live in a world of overpopulated media
venues, I am sure that in Egypt after two revolutions the people have reached
maturity permitting them to differentiate between truth and lies. The media of
the Brotherhood cannot change the year when they ruled Egypt whatever lies they
spread.
SA: In the aftermath of the 2013 revolution and the
dispersal of Rabaa sit-in, many thought that the fleeing members of the
Brotherhood could think of assembling a government-in-exile.
WH: Like we witness in the second part, the Brotherhood all
the time tried to initiate a state within the state but this wouldn’t happen
because we are one country and one system. They want their own state. But the
Egyptian people tends to have a civil state rather than the state that the
Brotherhood tends to establish: An economic and business state pretending to be
Islamic and religious. After 85 years, the Brotherhood has roots and power that
is still deceives many people till now. One of the examples in their history
that we will see in the second part: when there was a conflict between King
Farouk and Al-Wafd party, the Egyptian people were roaming the street and
cheering “The People with al-Wafd, The People with al-Nahas”. And so King
Farouk went for support to the Brotherhood who roamed the streets cheering “God
with the King” …
SA: In previous interviews, you mentioned that you have
two other film projects yet related to the Brotherhood. One was historical
about the “Assassins” and the other was contemporary about El-Etihadeya
incident in 2012. What’s the status of both projects?
WH: The script for the “Assassins” was put on hold due to
its forecasted high budget. Another reason of its delay was a serials by
Jordanian producer Talal Al-Awamlah who contacted me to ask me to postpone the
film for the favor of his serials. However, that was last year and he haven’t
started production till now. As for the second film, I think we will shoot it
soon.

Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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