‘Illegal’ Israeli TV broadcasts of popular Egyptian soap operas provoke outrage and denials

‘Illegal’ Israeli TV broadcasts of popular Egyptian soap operas provoke outrage and denials
Israeli TV channel have broadcast two Egyptian television series provoking outrage across the Arab world and statements from the production companies that the broadcasts are illegal.
2 min read
13 May, 2020
Veteran Egyptian actor Adel Imam (centre) starred in the two TV series [Getty]

The broadcast of two Egyptian soap operas starring veteran film star Adel Imam by Israeli television channels in Ramadan has caused outrage in Egypt and the wider Arab World amid increasing concerns over the normalisation of relations between Arab countries and Israel.

Imam’s Awalem Khafiya (Hidden Worlds) television series, which was originally shown on Egyptian TV in Ramadan 2018, is currently being broadcast by Makan 33, an Israeli state broadcasting channel aimed at Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The plot of the popular series centres around a fictional secret diary kept by an actress detailing scandals involving high-ranking politicians, which later falls into the hands of an Egyptian opposition journalist.

In Egypt, the Magnum television production company, which produced the series, was accused by fans of Adel Imam of secretly selling the series to the Israeli channel, with some Twitter users accusing the actor himself of selling the series.

Adel Imam is a household name in the Arab world, having starred in many popular plays and films since the 1970s. One of his best known works is Al-Za’eem (The Leader), a play produced in 1993 which poured ridicule and scorn on Arab dictators and was seen as unprecedentedly bold and irreverent at the time.

Hisham Tahsin, the producer who worked on Awalem Khafiya, angrily denied that Magnum had sold the 2018 series to Makan 33, saying that the Israeli channel was broadcasting it illegally.

He added that another channel oriented to Israel’s Palestinian community, Hala, was broadcasting Adel Imam’s latest Ramadan series, Valentino, one day after it was shown on Egyptian and Arab channels which had broadcasting rights.

It is not yet known whether Magnum or Adel Imam will take legal action against the Israeli channels.

While Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and the two countries have had diplomatic relations ever since, there is a widespread cultural boycott of Israel in Egypt which is informed by Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land and persecution of the Palestinian people.

Last month, the Israeli foreign ministry complained bitterly about another Egyptian series, Al-Nihaya (The End) which was set in the 22nd century and predicted Israel’s destruction.

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