Egypt’s ON Network issued a statement denying that the Egyptian Ramadan series “Abu Omar Al-Masry” portrays Egyptians living in Sudan as terrorists. The statement was issued amidst a crisis that escalated when the Sudanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the series, which stars Ahmed Ezz, of portraying some Egyptians living or visiting Sudan of being terrorists.
However, ON denied all accusations in its statement saying, “we emphasize that the series is from its writer’s imagination and did not include any suggestive scenes with regards to the Sudanese state, its government or its people. The series does not represent the Egyptian state’s position. The Egyptian state is always keen on improving and strengthening its relationship with the Sudanese state and its people.”
The statement went on to add that, “we emphasize that the series did not intend to call out the Sudanese state because its cast realize the importance of art in connecting people, rather than to create conflict within Egyptian-Sudanese relations. The cast also realizes the importance of the strategic partnership between both countries as they both share great ambitions and cultural, societal, political, security and economic ties.”
The controversy started when Sudan accused Abu Omar Al-Masry, a series airing in Ramadan based on the book by Ezz al-Din Shoukry Fisher, of implying that Sudan harbors Egyptian terrorists.
Spokesman of the Sudanese Foreign Affairs Ministry Kareeb Allah Kedr also issued a statement saying the series misled viewers to believe it was shot in Sudan, such as using Sudanese license plates for cars which is illegal unless permission from the Sudanese government is obtained.
Consequently the Sudanese embassy in Egypt has presented a formal complaint against the series, Kedr added, and urged Egypt to take the the necessary steps to stop any attempt to sabotage relations between the both countries.
The complaint described the series as “terrible”, adding that “it is a failed attempt to sabotage and create doubt in relations between both countries and destroy communication.”
The complaint also added that there are eight daily flights between Egypt and Sudan, in addition to 50 daily trips between both countries via all transportation means, and not once has an Egyptian in Sudan been proven to be a terrorist.
The complaint concluded, “there is great coordination between the police and armed forces of the two countries, and based on their agreements, none of them is allowed aggression towards the other.”
While Sudan and Egypt historically enjoyed friendly ties, relations have been recently strained by the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam project. While Sudan announced its support for the Egyptian stance at first, it later changed its position supporting the Ethiopian side. After a long round of negotiations the three countries recently announced they have reached an agreement.
Tensions between Cairo and Khartoum also rose last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused Egyptian intelligence of supporting dissidents fighting government forces in Darfur, in the western region of the country.