Turkey: Conquering Middle East with new soap opera

Major success and many fans in Emirates for Fatmagul

30 March, 13:21

Turkish actress Beren Saat Turkish actress Beren Saat

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA - A new Turkish soap is capturing the imagination of audiences in the Middle East and Arab countries, the website of a Turkish daily newspaper has reported. "Fatmagul'un Sucu Ne?" (What's Fatmagul got to do with it?) is confirming a trend seen as a neo-Ottoman cultural widening that is being met with some resistance.

The series stars Beren Saat, the actress who gained stardom in the role of Bihter in "Ask-I Memnu" (Forbidden Love) opposite Egin Akyurek. Fatmagul is broadcast in the early evening on the satellite channel MBC4 five days a week in the United Arab Emirates and, according to Hurriyet Daily News, rumours and news on the series are spreading through the Arab World. There are many fans in the UAE, in particular, with every episode uploaded onto video-sharing sites. "Fatmagul'un Sucu Ne?" airs in Turkey on Kanal D every Thursday and tells the story of Fatmagul, the victim of sexual abuse.

Turkish soaps are watched in more than 20 countries (with peaks of 40 for the luckiest productions) and experts say that they are contributing to the spreading of Turkey's values and lifestyle through the Middle East and North Africa, exerting a sort of "soft power" that is to the advantage of Ankara's neo-Ottoman diplomacy. TV series such as "Muhtesem Yuzyil" (the Ottoman "Magnificent Century"), "Ask-I Memnu", featuring the beautiful Saat and "Yaprak Dokumu" (Falling Leaves) have smashed the record for television audiences in countries in the area and the more than 100 shows already in circulation generated more than 60 million dollars last year alone, according to figures released in December. Between 2005 and 2011, Turkey's Ministry of Culture announced in January, some 35,675 hours of Turkish television programmes were sold to 76 countries across the world.

The most successful were "Magnificent Century", which is reawakening interest in Ottoman splendour, and the now historic "Kurtlar Vadisi" (Valley of the Wolves), which has been on screens since 2003, the year that Erdogan became Prime Minister.

The spread of Turkish tastes and traditions, the result of the unprecedented blend of the super-secular constitution imposed by Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s and 1930s on a country with Muslim roots, albeit tempered by the historic tolerance of the Ottomans, is not to everyone's tastes, not least Balkan nationalists, North African Muslim father and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Turkish agency Anadolu reports that a radical Serbian group, "Nashi 1389", has launched a campaign against the "Magnificent Century", because it conveys too positive an image of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan who oversaw the Ottoman Empire at its most radiant, conquering Belgrade in 1521 in the process. News reached Turkey a few days ago of the Algerian schoolgirl whose throat was slit by her father after he found pictures on her mobile phone of Turkish actors such as Kivanc Tatlitug. Last month, the executive director of the Afghan media group NAI, Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, cited the ban on the broadcast of a Turkish soap as an example of pressure from the Taliban last year.(ANSAmed).

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