Awan al-Ward Addresses Questions of Muslim-Coptic Relations
The Egyptian series Awan al-Ward -a police drama with strong social undertones and a love story between a police officer Mustafa Bekhit played by Hisham Abdel Hamid and a beautiful woman Amal played by Youssra- is mainly a vehicle for addressing Muslim-Coptic relationships.
Youssra's mother, Madame Rose, played by Samiha Ayoub, is a Copt who was married to a Muslim and disowned by most of her family. When her husband dies, she comes back to Egypt from Paris and brings up her daughter as a Muslim, avoiding all contact with her own side of the family to make sure there are no problems.
When Mustafa and Amal meet and fall in love, her mother has no problems at all, and after initial hesitation, his parents also come to terms with Rose's religion, with each side going out of the way to show that their different religions are not an issue.
The series also deals with other daring issues such as prostitution, government corruption and sex before marriage, but doesn't really focus on any one issue too strongly apart from the religious one.
But while Rose and Mustafa's parents represent religious harmony, certain characters, such as Rose's nephew, have been placed in the plot to show religious prejudice in their attitudes, making for some very good opportunities for the more tolerant characters to remind them of Egypt's harmonious religious history.
The show features outstanding performances by Abdel Rahman Abou Zahra as Abdel-Hamid's boss, and Ragaa al-Gidawi as his mother. Script-writer Wahid Hamid (Terrorism and Kebab) continues to wow the audience with subplots and surprises revealing the darker sides of police work, as well as dialogue which may be over-the-top at times, but is always interesting.
Police officer Mahmoud Bekheit (Hisham Abdel Hamid) and his lovely wife Amal's (Youssra) son has been kidnapped from the hospital the day after he was born no less, and the grieving family has been sent an ultimatum. The child is in safe hands, but he won’t be given back until Bekheit admits that he once performed a grave injustice to the unknown kidnapper. He must admit his mistake and own up.
There is certainly something symbolic about Awan al-Ward, considering the soap opera's primary theme, the unity of Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt. Amal's mother, after all, is Madame Rose, a Coptic Christian who married a Muslim, and this makes for plenty of cross-religious imagery and dialogue that shows just how harmonious the two religions are.
Meanwhile, the audience is left hanging, as we go through all the possible culprits. Could it be Bannoura, the me'allam who Bekheit arrested for running a Mafia-like organization out of his coffeehouse? Could it be the street gang that was robbing people on dark roads? Will it be Amal's colleague who was always in love with her and sent her black flowers on the day she got married to Beklheit? Is it any of the family's Christian or Muslim relatives, upset at the marriage? Is it the crazy guy who once confronted Bekhiet in the street? Or is it, as so many people think, Bekheit's spurned former girlfriend, the famous TV presenter who once had to abort his child?
The report said that there has been something strange happening, though, which may give us a clue. Twice or so into the show, there's a commercial break, and a phone number appears on screen, along with an announcement that an Awan al-Ward contest has been established. Viewers can call in with their opinion of who the kidnapper is in the hope of winning 5000 pounds. Is this a sly way of finding out who the audience thinks it is so that scriptwriter Hamid can then tailor the ending either to fit people's expectations, or else to completely surprise them?
Meanwhile, according Cairolive.com, the sometimes over-the-top dialogue on national unity continues, as does the broaching of taboo subjects like premarital sex.
The show features great, understated performances by both Abdel-Hamid and Youssra, and exciting dialogue and situations. Abdel Rahman Abou Zahra and Said Saleh continue to be the supporting casts' high points, with Abou Zahra as Bekheit's boss, and Saleh as the very funny former swindler Sobhy Barquq who is helping Bekheit to find the kidnapper – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)