Cairo: A respected Islamist has urged his followers not to be distracted by "the attempt to distort our image from pursuing our mission towards the umma [nation]".

Speaking at a recent iftar gathering, Mohammad Badei, the Supreme Guide of Egypt's banned-yet-most influential opposition group, said: "Attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood and attempts to tarnish their spotless history are not something new."

He was referring to Al Jamaa (The Group), a television serial being shown on official and some satellite channels.

Even before the Dh30 million production hit the airwaves, it stirred controversy in the country. Based on a screenplay by acclaimed writer Wahed Hamed, Al Jamaa tells the story of Hassan Al Banaa, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. Jordanian actor Eyad Nassar plays Al Banaa.

The group has been banned since 1954, though its members contest elections as independents.

Hamed, known for criticising Islamists in his TV and cinema works, has been accused of being commissioned by President Hosni Mubarak to write the show in order to assail the Brotherhood ahead of Egypt's legislative elections in November.

"I don't write upon orders from the State Security Department or any other agency," said Hamed in a recent interview. "I don't present this serial to gain money.

"Had I wanted money, I would have written a comedy or any other genre, which would have spared me the insults I have been exposed to since I started writing this serial."

Hamed also denied that makers of the show received any support from the government.

"Officials even refused to allow us to shoot the serial inside state-owned palaces for fear they would be accused of being biased towards us."

The family of Al Banaa, who died in 1949, has accused the show of tarnishing his reputation and asked it be taken off the air.

"I have a clear conscience. I have all documents and reference books, which verify what I have written," said Hamed, who challenged his detractors to go to court.

"The first episodes of the serial have produced results contrary to what its makers wanted," said Essam Al Erian, the spokesman for the Brotherhood. "They are full of exaggerations and reflect the government's view," he told Gulf News.

"People always side with facts and what has been shown are not facts. The Brethern are not living on another planet. They are living among people who know them and what the police, glorified on the show, really are."