Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saudi grand mufti condemns Turkish soap operas

We've mentioned before how crazy the Arab world has gone over a Turkish soap opera dubbed in Arabic named "Noor."

Well, the Saudi grand mufti has decided enough is enough:
The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, has condemned Turkish soap operas, which have charmed millions of people across the Arab world, and prohibited people from watching them, Al-Watan daily reported yesterday.

“It is not permitted to look at these serials or watch them. They contain so much evil; they destroy people’s ethics and are against our values,” said the mufti during the closing ceremony of a forum, which took place in Riyadh on Friday. He added that these “malicious” Turkish soap operas corrupt individuals and spread vice in society.

“Any TV station that airs them is against God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). These are serials of immorality. They are prepared by people who are specialists in crime and error, people who invite men and women to the devil.”

Al-Asheikh was referring to two Turkish soap operas, “Noor” and “Lost Years,” which have become extremely popular in the Arab world over the last couple of months. The soaps are dubbed in colloquial Syrian Arabic and are currently being shown on channels run by the MBC Group.

The soaps are proving such a big draw in the Kingdom that many people plan their day around the programs, which have also become popular dinner table conversation.

According to mbc.net, “Noor” has become “a turning point in the lives of its Arab audience and the way Arabs view Turkish dramas.”

“The TV series is awaited daily by millions of eager Arab viewers from the Atlantic to the Gulf who follow the latest developments in Muhannad and Noor’s love story. It has opened the door for Arab viewers, especially since it contains an area of romance, which Arabic dramas have recently lacked,” says MBC’s webpage.

Maha Al-Hujailan, a Saudi columnist and a medical researcher at King Khaled University Hospital in Riyadh, wrote that the women’s attachment to male characters in “Noor” and “Lost Years” cannot just be attributed to their good looks.

“What really attracts women and gets them attached to these characters is the romance and the way they show their genuine love to their loved ones... Saudi women miss something important in their men: the feeling of love and security,” wrote Al-Hujailan.

A Saudi grandmother in her mid-70s told Arab News that, although she usually watches Arabic dramas, “Noor” has turned her life upside down.

“I couldn’t sleep the night when Noor was kidnapped. Her image haunted me. I just want to see what is at the end,” she said.

Al Watan recently reported that the number of Saudi women naming their children after characters in these two soap operas have skyrocketed.

More "Noor" news can be seen at MBC.net's Noor page, where they happily cite articles that are even critical of the show.