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.


 


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 19 July 2019
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Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

  • Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place
  • The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.