Sudan protests against Egyptian Ramadan TV series Abu Omar al-Masri 

A still image from the TV series Abu Omar al-Masri.
Updated 21 May 2018
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Sudan protests against Egyptian Ramadan TV series Abu Omar al-Masri 

  • The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Egyptian ambassador to Khartoum to protest against the series, starring Egyptian actor Ahmad Ezz. 
  • Khartoum is angered by the idea that Egyptian militants would find refuge in Sudan.

CAIRO: Sudan is officially angered by a new Egyptian drama series ‘Abu Omar al-Masri’ and is calling for banning it on television channels during Ramadan.  

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Egyptian ambassador to Khartoum to protest against the series, starring Egyptian actor Ahmad Ezz. 

The ministry said it had also filed a formal complaint with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry through its embassy in Cairo against the serial, which is based on a novel of the same name.

 

It accused the series of “fabricating and promoting a negative image” picturing Sudan as a state where Egyptian terrorist fugitives reside.

“Abu Amr Al-Masry shows that some Egyptians living in Sudan are involved in terrorism,” the Sudanese ministry said in a statement. “This is not true because there is no evidence against any Egyptian living in Sudan of being involved in terrorism.”

“The series sought to convince viewers that some areas of Sudan were the location of some scenes in the series, by using Sudanese car plate numbers, without obtaining the consent of Sudanese authorities,” the statement said.

The ministry said those Egyptians living in Sudan have come following a coordination between the authorities and security services of the two countries.

“This television serial is insulting Egyptians living in Sudan and destroying the confidence and relations between the people of the two countries,” the ministry said. “The ministry urges the Egyptian authorities to take suitable steps to stop these attempts at disturbing the interests and achievements of the two countries.”

Producers and cast of the television series replied in a press release that he events are fictional. 

"The series script was written based on the scriptwriter's imagination and does not contain scenes or hints against the Sudanese government or the Sudanese people,” the channel airing the drama said in statement quoted by Egypt Today. 

Diplomatic ties between Cairo and Khartoum have largely remained tense, particularly since last year after Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir accused Egyptian intelligence services of supporting opposition figures fighting his troops in the country’s conflict zones like Darfur.

Cairo accused Sudan of involvement in a 1995 assassination attempt by Egyptian militants against Egypt’s then-President Hosni Mubarak during a trip to Ethiopia. Sudan denied the allegations, and expelled bin Laden and other militants the following year.

Ties between the two were further strained after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Khartoum earlier this year.

Turkey and Egypt have had tense relations since the Egyptian military ousted President Muhammad Mursi in 2013, a close ally of Erdogan.

In recent months tension also rose between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over a controversial dam that Ethiopia is building along its share of the Nile. Cairo fears that once commissioned the dam will reduce water supplies from the Nile to Egypt. But on Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that a “breakthrough” had been reached in talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over the dam.


 


Turkey’s Erdogan croons on campaign trail

Updated 20 March 2019
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Turkey’s Erdogan croons on campaign trail

  • Erdogan has deployed theme songs played on speakers at rallies in past elections
  • Music has always been a powerful tool in Turkish politics

ISTANBUL: In a decade and a half in power, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has often turned to oratory skills that are the envy of his foes to rouse supporters with speeches, poems and stories.
Now the Turkish leader is picking up the microphone to sing, complete with hand gestures, to rally supporters of his ruling AKP party for March 31 local elections.
Music has always been a powerful tool in Turkish politics, but with Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), it has now become one more way to galvanize his support base before a potentially tricky vote.
With Turkey in recession and inflation in double digits, the AKP is turning up the nationalist rhetoric to try to win over voters hurt by high living costs.
“I get goose bumps when I listen to the songs everyday,” said Ilknur Can, at an Erdogan rally in Istanbul’s Kasimpasa district, where the president grew up.
“I really understand, through this music, what patriotism is,” she added.
Erdogan’s critics say he has eroded rights by cracking down on dissent at home.
But for supporters, his electoral style taps into their image of Erdogan as the strong leader Turkey needs who speaks for them.
In this month’s municipal elections, the AKP will likely remain the largest party even if some experts say it could win by a smaller percentage of the vote.

Music is everywhere in Turkey, blaring out in taxis, shops and restaurants. Political events also have regular, and often extremely loud music.
The Turkish leader has deployed theme songs played on speakers at rallies in past elections, which have kept him in power since 2003.
But in the upcoming polls, it is Erdogan himself who is singing at almost every rally.
“Nereden nereye geldi Turkiye” (“From where Turkey came to where we are now“) Erdogan crooned from the stage at a recent event.
The song repeats a line from his election campaign tune about how far Turkey has developed under his rule.
“He already has an organic connection with his grassroots, but these songs are a new strategy to widen support,” associate professor Dogan Gurpinar, of Istanbul Technical University, said.
Political events have also been the subject of songs.
After a failed 2016 coup against Erdogan, one song had the lyrics: “Democracy took a blow and the nation was puzzled... the commander-in-chief gave the order: Take to the squares.”
That was a reference to Erdogan’s call during the coup attempt for loyalists to take to the streets.
Another song entitled “Dombra” chants the president’s name, drawing cheers from party faithful.
“I am over the moon whenever I listen to Nereden Nereye,” said supporter Ayse Duru, as she sang along to Erdogan’s recent campaign song.

The composer of Erdogan’s latest campaign tune and performer of it when the president himself isn’t singing it is Turkish pop singer Altan Cetin.
“It was not hard for me to write (the AKP song) and put it into a project. Believe me, it can sometimes be even more difficult to do a pop song,” he told AFP in his studio in Istanbul.
Cetin said that it took almost a month to finish.
“Our president uses every instrument of politics very successfully and very professionally,” he said.
In Europe, it is rare for a candidate to sing at election rallies.
But in the United States, former president Barack Obama sometimes sang on the campaign trail, and in 1992, Bill Clinton famously played the saxophone before an audience — helping to cement his popularity with young voters.
Late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez also often broke into song at rallies and speeches, rousing supporters with the national anthem or folksongs.
Cetin said that music was “like a glue” for people that “brings them closer.”
“Music is about synchronization. It creates a sincerity, a unity and a power with everyone who feels it.”

Cetin said that he wrote what he had “lived through” in Turkey, saying he was happy to see the country’s leader singing his music.
“A president accompanying a song with a microphone in his hand in a rally is a source of pride for the song’s composer,” he said.
Gurpinar, of the Istanbul Technical University, said that music was the most direct way to reach people.
“Turkey is a country that looks for tools to reach out to the masses more easily compared to other Western states,” he said.
Compared to the AKP, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) often struggles to establish similar bonds with its old school, left-leaning, protest song repertoire, Gurpinar said.
However the CHP is now also trying to attract more voters with modern songs — one is a rap tune by two young amateur musicians.
“It can have power only when the music and candidate merge,” CHP’s Istanbul candidate Ekrem Imamoglu told AFP when asked about music’s role.
But he said that positive expressions like music should replace heated rhetoric.
“I wish we would see and feel such nice things in politics,” he said. “We are happy with our songs. Honestly, I didn’t listen to the others.”