One of the most controversial TV series during Ramadan was King Farouk.


Although I am personally against studying history from soap operas, TV series, or movies, it should be also clear that the Egyptian history has been falsified; whatever history we learnt in schools is not the truth in many parts, it was rewritten with a lot of omissions and a lot of inclusions. Clearly History is found in reliable history books and Drama even historical one remains drama you love or hate the main actor.One has to admit that this series has attracted a lot of interest, and I find that the attitude of the Egyptian media authorities was extremely myopic, because borders have fallen down and that satellite broadcasting made material available.The questions I have are:

1.       Why did Egyptian TV refuse to produce it?

2.       Why the presidency palaces were not opened for filming on the real sites?

3.       Why it was not broadcasted on Egyptian TV?

I actually challenge anybody to come with a reasonable logical cause.

What I found strange that suddenly in Al Akhbar an article appeared attacking the art work, Rose El Youssef magazine dedicated a whole issue for Farouk with interviews and articles mostly by Egyptian left wing. Al Ahram had also an article attacking Farouk the king all have also accused the series of falsifying history without presenting any proof only personal testimonials based on memoirs.

I tend to see this overreaction strange as if suddenly a TV series will bring back monarchy to Egypt and replace the Republican system, although it happened in Spain after Franco, but the monarchy was not back through a TV series even with a strong captive audience and lots of discussions.There has been many TV series documenting and providing witness for the state of the Egyptian farmer before the revolution, who by the way did not declare the republic immediately, it was declared only in 1954 two years later,  and no one commented or overreacted.

From the couple of episodes I managed to watch the series looks at Farouk and the political arena so it is a series about the monarchy, as many movies and series were done about other leaders and heads of states from Alexander the great, Salah El Din, Napoleon to Nasser and  Sadat. So what is wrong? It was movies that helped do propaganda to the 1952 revolution; as the famous movie we all memorize; Rod Qalby. It was in this movie  that  the Pasha was pictured as extreme arrogant evil. To my knowledge art has always been used to support a change not to start it up.

What is wrong in discovering that Farouk was not all evil? What damage will happen if we discover that he was at one point in his life a nationalist who decided to send the army to fight the Hagama in Palestine?  Would a bright positive side to the King deprive the 1952 revolution of its raison d’etre? I don’t think time never goes back, we feel only nostalgia to old times, a sign of nostalgia was the creation of several groups on facebook concerning the Royal Family, one has already 822 members, and the second with almost 10,000 members exchanging and displaying photos articles and videos.

The revolution used the term corrupt King to promote its action, may be this is what the series attempted to clear the image of a corrupt King, while what was a real reason for the coup was not only the king, it was the whole political instability of the country and the presence of the British troops and their continuous interference in the political life. 

History is history but it seems that we could not over the generations get rid of an old Pharaonic habit of destroying the predecessor and his history in order to gain legitimacyUnfortunately the discourse and the extreme hostility to a piece of art reveals to me an ever increasing negative attitude of irrational discourse and discussion characterized by no compromises and extreme hostility to a differing opinion or view, it is a sign of lack of confidence, no one is bringing facts to the discussion everyone is defending his opinion as fact.

What should be born in mind that when a vacuum exists something comes and fill it, so if Egypt decided not to produce the series, someone else will do, If Egyptian TV decided not to broadcast another channel will and so forth.

A last word does this attack have a hidden agenda? Being a non believer in the conspiracy theory I would say no, but I think that it may in fact attempt to clear the air from all the negative comments and release the whole Media system from the accusations of being complacent vis a vis this series and that Egyptian History should be produced by Egyptian specially after the previous blunder to handle the rumors about the President.


8 Responses to “Farouk”

  1. 1 Joan Cos-Codina November 1, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Dear Rafik,

    As a Spaniard who lived the transition from our dictator Franco to democracy, although I was not politically adult at that time (he died in 1975), I can assure you that history is allways manipulated and falsified. Every regime that has the opportunity to manipulate history will try to do it. And this only has one (I really mean ONE) way to be prevented: democracy and freedom of press. Let me develop this idea…

    During Franco history was manipulated (not only history). It was “extremely” falsified: he denied the crimes of war done by his army, incredibly upgraded his victories, built an halo of glory around him, his army and his government, and, of course, silenced the voices of the thousands and milions of persons who died (or were confined and tortured) during the Civil War (1935-39) that gave him the power against a democratically legitimate government (the Republic of Spain). During his following 40 years of government (dictatorship), a systematic work for deleting any “unconvenient” idea, culture, history, information or person was very effective. As we have already learned in Europe, dictators use to be very effective at repression (remeber death camps of Hitler… very efficient).

    But the point is that after he trespassed and the People of Spain managed to do a quiet and blodless transition to democracy, things changed and some historic truths started to be under public light and evidence. To reach this point, democracy and separation of powers have to come and allow different kinds of media (magazines, newspapers, TV and radio) do historical and political research, cover news, do interviews; and publish it freely, regardless of the opinions expressed and its political, moral or political “colour”, (including football team’s likes and dislikes).

    What I want to say is that to build a solid society in a country (mostly after a political change) some things are key: strong and trustfull institutions and freedom of press (among others). Yes, freedom of press helps to undercover old lies and “falsifications”, and contributes to build trust among people. In a way, it prevents “falsification” of history and undercovers previous lies and manipulations. Nevertheless, it takes time, effort and some suffering.

    So, coming back to your Blog about Farouk and manipulation of history, I just want to underpin that if history (time) does not put everybody in its place (including the good and bad things of Farouk), it is because some things do not work properly.

    It is the people who has the responsibility to be critical, to make questions to themselves, and not no believe anything “they” tell us just because they do (and it is in TV, or in printing, etc…).

    It is our responsibility to believe or not to believe, to ask or to remain silent, to make questions and listen to the answers or to their absence.

    If the system works, freedom of press will defend all of us from darkness, manipulation and propaganda. It may bring us unconfortable or even painful opinions, but even the stupidest or most wiked idea or opinion must have the chance to be expressed.

    In Spain we now feel that we achieved this status, and just very recently (during the last days of October 2007) a Law on Historic Memory was enacted by Parliament, with the purpose to “recover and clean” the memory of the people ultraged during Civil War 1935-39 and the later period of Franco’s dictatorship (ended 1975). This Law declares void the military judgements made to the “loosers” and other political offenders. It has taken us 32 years to be able to reach this point, and still now, some people is against doing this necessary step towards curing deep wounds done during the Civil War (a war among brothers).

    Sorry for the length of this email, I hope analogy with Spain may be useful to give light on things and chances in Egypt about historial memory and falsification of history.

    (writing from Barcelona – Spain)

  2. 2 rafiknakhla November 2, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Dear Friend
    I cannot comment anymore on what you said because I believe it deeply. We have choices to make a we have our critical minds to be able to differentiate between lies and truth.
    The problem in Egypt that 50% are illiterate and that these get the information easily through one of the most influencial mean the TV.
    I am really happy of your visit

  3. 3 mohamed abdel raouf November 9, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    hi dr rafik
    i am so sorry i don’t see this series but i know that the king forouk isn’t so bad as we studied in our school
    my father told that the king farouk wasn’t so bad it was a good king but the problem was in some politicalmen that they didn’t like the king and they mad some rumors about him .but asu say dr that the history is histoy we can’t do any thing about it

  4. 4 Noran Shafey November 11, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Dear Dr.Rafik,
    First of all I would like to congratulate you on a most interesting and diverse blog. The topics you chose show great foresight.
    I too cannot understand the fuss over the Farouk TV series. Why can’t people just appreciate it as the beautiful work of art it is? It was good to learn that Farouk was not the corrupt king we were lead to understand as students in the 60s’, and as much as I believe that many people rely on television as a source of history lessons, yet I do know that it also triggers them to read about the specific topic and go more in depth. At least that’s what I did. I wouldn’t worry about how the layman would take the facts given in the series as the absolute truth, since a series like Farouk is not what may interest him, and if it did, then it would only be to observe how the king lived in luxury.
    One last thing, emphasis on El Nahas Pasha was overdone. Sometimes I thought the series was about him, not Farouk.
    Again, congratulations and I look forward to reading many more of your interesting thoughts.

  5. 5 rafiknakhla November 12, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Dear Noran
    Thank you for the nice words of support.
    Actually what is happening with Farouk series and with other contrarian opinions is a sign of a strong lack of self confidence whether it is politics, religion or any topic of general interest an overreaction is witnessed you will notice it in the language used.
    I did not see the whole series so I am not in position to judge whether El Nahass was overdone or not. But in general this is a view through an angle to the life of Egypt’s King (the one before last) it presented his good side.

  6. 6 josep bertran November 19, 2007 at 9:43 am


    One of may main pleasures in reading history books is to demitify , big names big heroic events, I do it because it helps me to ” look for my own identity ” ( Anwar el Sadat ) . I do not have anything against a soap opera , but it has even less garaties to be a good and fair description.

  7. 7 rafiknakhla November 25, 2007 at 10:41 am

    I did not loose my identity as the decendant of pharoas, because I was always fascinated by their history and read a lot of serious books about them. This also allowed me to act as a tour guide for any friend I take to visit our sites

  8. 8 shady makram December 15, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    ليست المشكلة فى ماهية المسلسل وما اذا كانت احداث المسلسل مغلوطة ام لا,المشكلة تكمن فى اصرارنا على دفن رووسنا فى الرمال تحت مسمى اصرارنا على نقدم الحقيقة كما هى دون مغالطة,فهل لدى التليفزيزن المصرى الحقيقة !!!؟اشك

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