Bloomberg News

Egypt’s First Female-Free TV Series to Show on Islamic Channel

June 10, 2013

The first men-only soap opera is set to be screened in Egypt during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with the aim of introducing “a cleaner and more conservative version of art,” the show’s director said.

The comedy sitcom “Cafe Show” is scheduled to hit Egyptian screens next month on the Islamic satellite channel Al-Hafez, director Wagdy El-Araby said in a telephone interview in Cairo today.

“We’re making art and drama without angering God or violating Islamic rules,” El-Araby said.

The entire cast, including actors and studio workers, will be male. The series revolves around a group of men sitting at a street cafe and discussing social, political and economic issues, according to El-Araby.

The director, who’s also an actor well-known for his roles in historical Islamic series, said the script is intended to introduce art that avoids the mixing of men and women which is discouraged by Islam. “It’s like going to the gym, it’s not ok for women to go and mix with half-naked men,” he said.

Last year saw the launch of Maria TV, a satellite channel solely run by fully veiled women. The appearance of such channels follows the rise of ultra-conservative Muslims in Egypt since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Artists have been organizing protests in recent weeks demanding the dismissal of the new Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel-Aziz, accusing him of attempting to impose a conservative religious agenda on the arts.

“The media should target all sections of society and we believe there’s a market and a room for growth for art that has an Islamic color,” El-Araby said. “I find it embarrassing when I’m sitting next to my wife, watching TV with all the obscene scenes and improper language used. It’s time to have a cleaner version of art.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at selwardany@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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