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Mona Zaki’s “Ramadan” series raises controversy over the “veiled” image

“Under Guardianship” in the sights of critics and observers

Wednesday – 8 Shaaban 1444 AH – 01 March 2023 CE Issue Number [16164]

Cairo: Dalia Maher

The image of the promotional poster for the Ramadan series “Under Guardianship”, which is led by the Egyptian actress Mona Zaki, sparked widespread controversy, as it shed light again on the shape and features of the veiled woman in the drama, and some considered that “Zaki’s features are completely different from reality, which is a deliberate distortion of the image of Egyptian women in general. And the veiled woman in particular.” While others defended Zaki, considering that “art would shed light on several patterns in society,” and that “judging an entire work from a publicity image for the work is comical and has nothing to do with reality.”
Followers compared Zaki’s image to that of the retired Egyptian actress Hanan Turk in the movie “The Interest”, asking Zaki to imitate her if she decided to present a veiled character again. On this, critic Karim Al-Masry says: “Turk’s image was of a well-off woman, and this appeared clearly in the context of the events, while the Zaki series has not yet been clear, and judging it from a propaganda image is not correct.” He added to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the story of the work is completely different from what people have circulated in terms of distortion and abuse.”

Series poster under guardianship

And while the Egyptian writer Shamekh Al-Shandawili criticized Zaki’s image on his personal page on “Facebook” and wrote: “The difference between the image of Hanan Turk and Mona Zaki is the love or hatred of the veil.” Some of the artistic and media community in Egypt, including broadcaster Amr Adeeb, defended him through the “Al-Hekaya” program. He said, “I respect every veiled girl or woman because the veil is imposed.” He asked, “Is there no evil veiled woman?” He added, “We have all patterns in society, and the role of art is to present them.”
The artist, Nashwa Mustafa, said, “Zaki is an important and great Egyptian actress, and she will perform a wonderful work.” Artist Khaled Sarhan wrote: “Mona Zaki is a great star and an artist who is present in our hearts with her talent and creativity.” While scriptwriter Tamer Habib commented, “The work includes a group of artists, led by the talented professional Mona Zaki, so it will be a source of happiness and pleasure for normal people.” Amr Mahmoud Yassin wrote, asking: “Can a sane person explain to me why there are people who criticize the format of the Mona Zaki series poster?”
The events of the series revolve in 15 episodes around the character “Hanan”, a woman in her mid-thirties, whose husband dies and becomes responsible for her two children. “Hanan” works in search of a financial return that guarantees her and her two children a decent life, and she resorts to working in the fishing profession, and gets into conflicts with some men who refuse to share her with them in this profession, and it is written by Sherine and Khaled Diab, and directed by Muhammad Shaker Khudair.
The critic, Magda Khairallah, considered that the widespread controversy surrounding this series reached the point of calling for stopping its filming last January by requesting a briefing in the Egyptian parliament, which is smart free publicity for the work that will be one of the most watched works in Ramadan, whether Supporters or opponents, she added to Asharq Al-Awsat: “What is happening is absurd, unacceptable and illogical,” calling for patience, follow-up, and then judgment.
Although a number of female artists appeared in the veil in their artwork, such as Hind Sabry, Hanan Turk, Sabreen, Dora, and Nelly Karim, they were not subjected to a similar attack. On this, Khairallah says: “Some of them have already been criticized, but perhaps the previous attack on Zaki was an incentive to criticize her again more.”

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