Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) is deeply concerned at the release of the second series of the Egyptian television series, Al-Ekhtyar (The Choice) – a series widely acknowledged to have been produced by the Egyptian military-security apparatus as a piece of propaganda for the current regime.
The first series, released last year, depicted the operations of a military unit led by Ahmed El-Mansy in Egypt’s Sinai region. The Egyptian state’s role in the Sinai conflict against terror groups has received substantial criticism from the wider international community, including various human rights groups. However dangerous the foe, basic standards expected of states engaged in such operations must be maintained – something that the Egyptian state has clearly failed to do.
It is perhaps because of this that it requires propaganda such as The Choice, the first series of which the state ensured was translated into both French and English – intended for both foreign audiences, including the youth of Egyptian diaspora.
In the second series, the Rabaa massacre of 2013 is depicted – a massacre in which over 1000 civilians were murdered by Egyptian security services, and which served as one of the key moments of President Al-Sisi’s consolidation of power. At least one human rights group has suggested that the massacre constituted a crime against humanity.
What is more, The Choice attempts to justify the highly prejudicial legal processes that the regime has consistently used against its critics since 2013, both to legitimise Sisi’s rule, and delegitmise the opposition. Political detainees in Egypt now number in the 10s of 1000s; indeed the current regime’s use of politicised courts – and its appalling treatment of detainees – is now globally recognised.
AOHR UK, therefore, deplores this series specifically, and the Egyptian state’s cynical use of high production-value television to launder its image.