The comedy theater was the field in which Adel Imam’s energies and talents appeared. With the plays “The School of the Troubles” and “Shahid Mashfash Hajja” in the mid-seventies, he gained immense popularity as the new “king of comedy” in Egypt, removing from the throne the older and older generation, Fouad Al-Mohandes, Abdel Moneim Madbouly and Ismail Yassin. It is credited with Adel Imam that he was smarter than his predecessors. When he later turned to the cinema, he did not rely on a single style or character or confine himself to the comedic framework. Rather, it can be said that diversity was the dominant feature of it. After a group of humorous contracting films that can be described as trivial (such as “Finding a Scandal”, “Hello I’m the Cat”, and “Antar Shail Seifah”), he began to move from the comedic to the romantic, as in the case of the movie “Keep Your Mind Out of Your Mind” or To the humanist, such as the movie “Man lives only once” or the nihilistic movie, such as the movie “Avocado” or even horror, such as the movie “Man and Jinn.” However, the films that established his position as the crowned king on the throne of Egyptian cinema, starting in the eighties, were those based on “action” in its Egyptian version mixed with comedy, such as “The Suspicious”, “Hanafi Al-Abha” and “Salam, my friend.”
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Perhaps Adel Imam’s distinctive ability to play the role of the popular hero, his humble upbringing, and his brown Egyptian features helped him to be accepted by the wide audience (in contrast to the traditional blue-eyed, white-skinned, and super-beautiful movie heroes – the model of Rushdi Abaza and Hussein Fahmy).Enemy of Islam
Adel Imam’s anti-Islamist stance became famous in the nineties of the last century, especially through his films “The Terrorist” and “Tour of Darkness”. However, the careful follower of his work will find that his hostility to the Islamic trend in general, and not only to political Islam movements, is very old, and is almost a constant feature in most of his works, especially cinematic. Adel Imam’s films, even far from politics, are hardly devoid of many suggestions, attitudes, and details, and words and phrases in the folds of the dialogue, pointing to his inherent tendency to oppose and criticize religious thought in general, and Islamic thought in particular. Even the character of the hero, in which he appeared in most of his films, was accompanied by the image of a heavy drinking man, with multiple female relationships and far from religious and “moral” discipline according to the traditional standards of conservative Islam. It is not possible that the intense repetition of scenes of hot kisses in his films came like this by chance or forgiveness, nor is it one of the requirements of dramatic work, but rather it is intentional and deliberate on his part. The same applies to the recurring stereotype that appears in Adel Imam’s work of the religious man who prays or the beardless who is usually a swindler, a rights eater, or a cruel blunt, if not a serious terrorist.
We believe that Adel Imam in his works was carrying out an ideological message, in which he believed, hostile to traditional Islamic religious thought. Adel Imam himself stated in a television interview that in his early youth he belonged to a Marxist organization called the Egyptian Communist Workers and Peasants Party.
It was not surprising that, in the year in which Mohamed Morsi assumed the presidency of Egypt, Adel Imam was subjected to a campaign of retaliatory harassment and legal prosecutions in Egyptian courts by people from political Islam currents. A court issued a preliminary sentence to a few months in prison for “contempt of religion”. But the ruling was rescinded, and those campaigns targeting Adel Imam stopped after the fall of Morsi and Sisi’s assumption of power.
An ally of the ruling regime
Since the nineties, it has become clear that Adel Imam has become an important part of the propaganda machine of the ruling dictatorial regime. He assumed the task of fighting the enemies of the regime in the media, taking advantage of his great popularity and the public’s love for his comedic roles and films. He took an extreme position in his support for Hosni Mubarak and his regime, and adopted all his policies – internally and externally – in whole and in detail. Indeed, the matter brought him to the point of explicit support for the succession of power to Gamal Hosni Mubarak! The imam has never heard a word of solidarity with the tens of thousands of Egyptians who were languishing in Mubarak’s prisons under emergency provisions and without a specific charge, and he never expressed solidarity with the victims of torture in state security prisons, and did not denounce the fraud of the people’s will in Mubarak’s electoral farce. Therefore, it was not surprising that his name was among the advanced ranks of the “black list of enemies of the Egyptian revolution” announced by the youth of the “25 January Revolution” after its victory in 2011. The result is that Imam cannot be considered part of the liberal movement striving for democracy, nor of the trends progressive in Egypt. Some of them accused him of coordinating his films with the State Security Investigation Agency. We believe that accusation is correct.
Since the year 2000, it seems that “Adel Bey Imam” has become in another social area, artistically
But what about his works that contain severe criticism of corruption among the people of power, money and influence, such as the movie “The Ghouls” and “Playing with Adults”? But what about his play “The Leader” in which the head of the state himself was mocked?
The answer is that the Mubarak regime relied on this kind of business to vent. It’s like a pressure cooker with a small outlet for steam to pass through. Otherwise, there will be an explosion. The Mubarak regime used to leave some people the freedom to criticize, but it is a deliberate criticism that does not work and does not lead to change. And Adel Imam’s films used to play this role, that is, to bring out the anger that is inside people. After seeing this kind of film, one leaves the cinema feeling a kind of relief.
The ambiguous position on the Palestinian issue
The imam has no known and independent position on the Palestinian issue, apart from the position of the regime. Since the seventies, his films and plays contain slanders and slanders about the Palestinian resistance and Arab opposition to Sadat’s “peaceful” policy toward the Israeli entity. Adel Imam’s positions that can be deduced from following up on his overall work, speech and interviews are summed up in the fact that Egypt was and still performs its duty towards Palestine, and more! Accordingly, no one has the right to “pray” over Egypt in the Palestinian issue, because no one has “presented the cause like Egypt.”
In 2005, Adel Imam starred in the movie “The Embassy in Architecture”, in which he shows the Egyptian people’s opposition to normalization and the support of the Palestinian people. We believe that it was a matter of throwing ashes in the eyes, nothing more.
At the beginning of 2009, Adel Imam defended the Egyptian regime, which was subjected to a wave of widespread criticism for its lax attitude towards the major Israeli aggression on Gaza. He appeared on television and said: “No one will be able to do anything for Israel, it is very organized, and people know what exactly it is doing.” And if she says, I will do something she will do.” “I am very angry at what is happening in Gaza,” he added, blaming the Palestinians. How can I fight a person knowing his strength and hit him with missiles? How do you fight one and know his abilities eh! The other party will not send you roses, the other party will send you missiles and will hit you.” Regarding the popular demonstrations that were taking place in support of the Palestinian people, he added, “We are tired of these demonstrations. I do not see statements by soul and blood that we redeem you, Sarkozy, nor with soul and blood we will redeem you, England.” He concluded his remarks by noting that the leaders of Hamas “take decisions while they are sitting in the jacuzzi.”
These statements sent happiness in the Zionist entity to the extent that Israeli officials in the media continued to use them in their propaganda directed at the Arabs for years to come. At the end of 2018, the “Israel in Arabic” page republished Adel Imam’s statements along with the video of the interview on Facebook.
In 2013, Adel Imam contributed to the distortion of the image of the Palestinian people in a scene from the series “Al-Araf”, which was shown during the month of Ramadan. On that day, the scene depicted masked people wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh, storming Egyptian prisons and smuggling prisoners in the events of the “25 January Revolution.” This is a blatant attempt to confirm the narrative and claims of the Interior and its security and media agencies that those who opened prisons and smuggled prisoners (including President Mohamed Morsi) were armed groups belonging to the Palestinian “Hamas” movement.
However, to be fair, it is mentioned to Adel Imam that throughout his long career he did not engage in any form of normalization with the Zionist entity. He did not visit Israel and did not establish relations with it. He did not meet Israelis at conferences, nor did he take pictures with them. He stayed away from “Israel” altogether.
Estimates of Adel Imam’s fortune range from $100 to $250 million, according to various press sources. Undoubtedly a great fortune for the man who started his life poor in the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood in Cairo. The coup in the conditions of the imam reflected on the roles he played in his work. Since the year 2000, it seemed that the artist “Adel Bey Imam” had become artistically in another social area. He moved to the upper class, and the characters he plays moved from those of the poor, the simple, and the marginalized to the influential figures in the state and society. And now we see Adel Imam as a wealthy businessman, a minister, a pasha, or a university professor, all the way to… the leader! It is a title he chose for himself and accepted as his inheritance.
* Writer and researcher from Jordan