Blinkered Horizons

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The contrast of the romantic drippings of the apparently hugely popular dubbed Turkish soap Gümüs and the criminal bombings in that country yesterday as well as those in Iraq and India which left over 100 dead and many more injured, cannot be brought more into focus than the exclusive and vociferous condemnation of the television serial by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia – its highest religious authority:

Stars of Turkish soap irritate Saudi religious authorities
Stars of Turkish soap irritate Saudi religious authorities

“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.

Yet we heard not even a shy beep of objection by the same respected gentleman against the cowardly and criminal bombing acts perpetrated by his own co-religionists against other human beings. To him and his ilk, it seems that a little romance is much more devastating than bombs which rip people to shreds.

“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.” – ed: my emphasis

Someone should remind the gentleman to reset his priorities, don’t you think? While he would probably not hesitate an instant to call those perpetrators of terror across the world as “martyrs” in the full knowledge of their heinous crimes simply because they call themselves Muslims and belong to his clique, he wantonly discards a whole television station and its millions of viewers from God’s mercy.

I wonder if someone reminded the gentleman of the fact that the owners of said offending station are actually his employers, would he change his mind and be the first to plaster himself in front of his own silver screen in anticipation of more syrupy words of love from the effervescent Mohanned imparted to the luscious Noor?

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40 Comments
  • Barry
    29 July 2008

    You know, it seems the more religious some people are, the more obsessed with sex they become. Perhaps his self denial of the joy of LIVING has made him come to think that a little romance is “teh debbil!” I wonder how he’d feel if he were compared to the religious nutbags of my own country who say the same things about the “evils” of entertainment? As far as I’m concerned, religious zealotry is the same no matter how you slice it.

  • Salman
    29 July 2008

    Mahmood, have you read todays GDN? Here is a link to the article for all those interested. I cannot believe how much effect a TV series has made over Bahrain.

    http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=224784&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=31131

    This is more of a plague than a soap opera.

  • docxray
    29 July 2008

    And how does the Grand Mufti know that the Turkish program is so devasting? He probably views each episode to make note of every objectionable (to him) scene. Reminds me of the fundamentalist do-gooders in the US who watched hundreds of hours of pornographic videos before issuing a statement that such videos were “unwatchable”.

  • mahmood
    29 July 2008

    Salman, the feedback I received (and I’m going to start watching the episodes if I’m awake to find out by myself!) is that the main theme is vastly different from the usual Gulf soaps. Do you know what that is? It’s a man who gives his wife the chance to shine and not be overbearing. It’s about a man who values his wife whom he loves even though it is an arranged marriage. It’s about a man who gives his wife some space, and it’s about a man who is unashamed of showing his wife love and affection!

    In contrast, in Gulf soaps generally, the man is the complete opposite from the above where he specialises in spitting at his wife and daughters, he beats them and abuses them, he hurls continuous insults rather than show love and affection.

    I don’t know Salman, this might well be a very good plague to have coming into our societies. Even is some clerics made a point of calling it “stupid” and labeled all those who do watch it likewise.

    Well, tonight I’m going to watch it. In spite of the stupidity of some clerics.

  • Salman
    30 July 2008

    I do not watch Arabic television, apart from the comedy shows in Ramadan. So, I wouldn’t really know the themes of soap operas aired by our local channels.

    Arranged marriages are something I am against, because they are forced upon either the man or the woman, or maybe even both.

    What I am not against, is the way most marriages have been conducted through our my lifetime, and yours. Which is a man asking for a girls hand in marriage, she accepts him and it goes from there. That does not make me comfortable somewhat, as of course, you cannot judge a person by only sitting with them for an hour or so. Even though a majority of these marriages have succeeded, it still does not give me ease of mind to put myself in such a position.

    But about the spitting bit, come on, abusive fathers are everywhere. I have seen my fair share of it in every country I have visited or lived in.

    I think we need a Jerry Springer type of show for Bahrain.

  • Yasser
    30 July 2008

    Oh please. What a joke. F HIM !

    The show is just like any other show. It doesn’t even include any nudity, or sexual scenes or anything.

    What a joke, he calls himself a ‘shaikh’.
    Yuck, I’m extremely disgusted by his comments. What worse is that a BAHRAINI “SHAIKH” has made similar comments.

    If these Shaikhs were true muslims, and had faith in themselves and faith in God – they would be able to tell right from wrong.

    Once again, WHAT AN EFFING JOKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IM ANGRY 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡

  • Lee Ann
    30 July 2008

    When I hear of such things coming from the lips of “religious” men…I have only one thought generally…pity for whatever woman he managed to trap and bind up…but knowing them…they have two or three or four…sigh.

  • Sam
    30 July 2008

    What’s all the fuss about? Can someone please show the douchebag in question where the ‘CHANGE CHANNEL’ button is on his remote control???

  • mahmood
    30 July 2008

    Salman:

    Even though a majority of these marriages have succeeded

    Well, do a quick google and you’ll find that the divorce rates in the GCC is around 50%. So I’m not sure where you got your statistics from to call these types of marriages “successful”.

    And then go any day of the week and just loiter in the halls of the courts and hear and see the women and children demanding their rights and crying due to the injustice that is visited upon them by both their erstwhile husbands and the Shari’a legal system they come under, then call this type of marriage “successful.”

    My friend, we have a very serious problem with this type of marriage that is born of this restrictive society and absence of a proper family law. Yet, when it is suggested that such a law must be enacted, a purported 120,000 with a goodly number of women go out a demonstrate against it!

    Yes yes I know. The clerics are not really against this law, they just want an exclusive constitutional guarantee that it is only them that can touch such a law, which empties it of all content and creates a country within a country. Nothing wrong with that, really, is there?

  • Grace
    30 July 2008

    Mahmood,

    “It’s a man who gives his wife the chance to shine and not be overbearing. It’s about a man who values his wife whom he loves even though it is an arranged marriage. It’s about a man who gives his wife some space, and it’s about a man who is unashamed of showing his wife love and affection!”

    Um,, I can tell from this paragraph that you haven’t been watching. Every single sentance you said is incorrect I am afraid!

    Shine? My xxx!!! He was so jelous of her at the time she was working on her own line!
    Love and affection? Imbala?!!! He fights with her every chance he gets just to show her whos boss.
    Arranged marriage? I think not!!

  • Loki
    30 July 2008

    erm, I submitted two posts this morning. yet they appear to gone. ….

  • mahmood
    30 July 2008

    Sorry Loki, I have no idea what is happening with the Akismet spam blocking engine as it seems to have become a lot more aggressive. I normally go to its queue several times a day and release comments which it regarded as spam for some inexplicable reasons. This time, I just released a comment from Sid, but I didn’t find any in limbo from yourself. Hopefully they will release a corrected engine soon, but until then, I will manually release comments if they are held in the queue (nothing gets automatically deleted thank God!)

  • mahmood
    30 July 2008

    Ooops! Thanks Grace. I never watched any but depended on the various news stories I read about the show. I stand corrected.

    So why do you think it gained so much influence to the level of this fatwa and more importantly, and again according to reports, some marital problems did happen because of this show?

  • Grace
    30 July 2008

    It shows you how “taaf-heen” some of the people here are. Women find Muhannad cute. Thats all there is to it really. He treats everybody around him like he’s one step better, he treats his wife like he owns her. He actually asked someone to “shush” the other day!! He stares at certain body parts and its very obvious where his eyes are. He gets jelous when another man is getting some… Hmmmm, who does that remind of? Any other Gulfie 🙂

  • mahmood
    30 July 2008

    Now I’ve really gotta watch it! 😉

  • heraish
    30 July 2008

    It is well documented that the mufti of saudi has condemned terrorism. As it is a problem affecting Saudi Arabia as well. Those types of condemnations have to be initiated by the government it seems. That is the convention there, as it involves a foreign country.

    The state religious authorities have a very limited scope about which they are allowed to comment on and that usually involves issues related to women, minorities, personal hygiene and music etc. They also handle the ramadan moon issue which they completely mishandle.

    The state religious authority unfortunately is a little more then a government stooge.

  • Loki
    30 July 2008

    Mahmood.

    Sorry, Problem was between the my keyboard and my chair. (didn’t enter required name, email)

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is this:

    “While he would probably not hesitate an instant to call those perpetrators of terror across the world as “martyrs” in the full knowledge of their heinous crimes simply because they call themselves Muslims and belong to his clique, he wantonly discards a whole television station and its millions of viewers from God’s mercy.”

    The above is quite a statement. I’m fairly certain he condemned such acts in the past in no uncertain terms. So I was wondering on what basis you said this!

    I don’t agree with alot of what our guys say (/tell us to do!) but that is not the same as condoning murder.

  • grace
    30 July 2008

    Heraish, I like the way you think! (And I don’t say this too often)

  • grace
    30 July 2008

    Mahmood if you are going to watch tonight, this is the update:

    Muhannad and noor are getting a divorce. He failed to see her point of view and she didn’t communicate her feelings and took it for granted, as many of us do, that he should understand her without her having to lift a finger.
    Bana the illegitemate strong career minded cousin is going to have a divorce from her journalist husband who is in palestine although she really loves him but he cannot handle her connections, and success. Basically because she tried to help him get a job.
    The Mom, sit sharifa, is going head to head with the new wife (Hiba) of Fikree baik the grandpa over who the lady of the house is.
    Nihal, Muhanads x and sons mother is marrying asaad and going to live in izmeer to stay away from trouble. She loves muhanad still but can’t have him. She just heard from the media that hes getting a divorce so she just might decide to call off the wedding.
    Oh, Hiba, the new xxxxx on the block has invited her daughter over. Shes trying to take over the empire for her kids.
    Can’t think of anything else really. The way this soap flows, I travelled for 3 weeks and when i came back, nothing much had happened.

  • mahmood
    30 July 2008

    Grace, this sounds like a royal family shenanigans from the not too distant past! Should be quite fun to watch, in an anthropological way that is. 😉

  • Steve the American
    31 July 2008

    Well said, Brother Mahmood. If I may boil the hateful mufti’s values down to their bitter essence, Wahhabis love death and hate life.

    Mahmood: “Well, do a quick google and you’ll find that the divorce rates in the GCC is around 50%.”

    Hmmm. That sounds like about the average in America, where everyone freely chooses their spouses. I wonder if we are not dealing with the efficacy of arranged marriages at all but rather discovering some natural law that half of all marriages fail.

  • Steve the American
    31 July 2008

    heraish: “It is well documented that the mufti of saudi has condemned terrorism.”

    It is well documented that the Wahhabis are the main source of Islamic terrorism. Evil clerics like the Saudi mufti are only against such terror in the Muslim world. They support it gleefully in the non-Muslim world.

    heraish: “As it is a problem affecting Saudi Arabia as well. Those types of condemnations have to be initiated by the government it seems.”

    Sheer hypocrisy. The Saudis are the authors, supporters, and financiers of terror. They have created this monster. It is no surprise that it came back home to roost on their doorsteps. Most of the $500K that funded the Sep 11 attack was Saudi. Portraying the Saudis as the victim of terror turns the truth on its head.

  • heraish
    31 July 2008

    Steve:

    It is well documented that the neo-cons are the main source of terrorism. Evil clerics like Dick Cheney are only against such terror in the Western world. They support it gleefully in the Muslim world.

  • mahmood
    31 July 2008

    Loki:

    I’m fairly certain he condemned such acts in the past in no uncertain terms.

    If you have a link where the respected gentleman actually condemned the terrorist acts referred to here in Baghdad, India and Turkey, please share it with us and I shall immediately retract my statement and offer an unreserved apology.

    When you don’t, I hope that you can reciprocate by at least emailing/writing/phoning the gentleman and ask him why he thinks that escapism such as Gümüs is more important for him to condemn than the killing of innocent human beings.

  • Grace
    31 July 2008

    Steve the American:

    “That sounds like about the average in America, where everyone freely chooses their spouses. ”

    Yes everybody over here also freely chooses their spouses, arranged marriages, have probably come down to 20% and even then the bride and groom get to meet and chat to see if there is any chemistry between them. Your problem my friend is that you sit behind your screen and judge others without living amongst them, basically treating everybody outside the US border as fictional characters on an Atari… Hmm now who does that remind me of? It must be a cultural thing… Perhaps a little less turkey around thanksgiving and a bit more commonsense will do you well.

  • Loki
    31 July 2008

    http://new.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=12691

    http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2007/10/268333.htm

    we could try sending him an email. Does anyone what his address is??

  • mahmood
    31 July 2008

    If you have a link where the respected gentleman actually condemned the terrorist acts referred to here in Baghdad, India and Turkey, please share it with us and I shall immediately retract my statement and offer an unreserved apology.

    Though I’m quite thrilled to read in your provided links of his assertion that:

    The aggression against Muslims and the occupation of their lands”, emphasises grand mufti al Sheikh, “cannot justify attacks and violence: obeying the dictates of the Qur’an without fomenting hatred and division is a basic principle of Islam, in accord with the precepts sanctioned by the prophet Mohammad”.

    in response the Saudi authorities detaining over 500 alleged terrorists in their midst.

    Why he chose to concentrate on a soap opera when he obviously has a much more immediate moral requirement to denounce the terror visited upon innocents on the same day of his speech is beyond me.

    Did he need further prompting I wonder?

  • Loki
    31 July 2008

    suit yourself… its a free internet

  • heraish
    31 July 2008

    The mufti is blind. Most of the information he gets is from government minders.

  • Aliandra
    31 July 2008

    It is well documented that there is a decrease of one IQ point for every hour of soap opera you watch. 😈

  • mahmood
    31 July 2008

    Grace you must have been pulling my leg, hard! Have a look at this report:

    A relative newcomer to Arab TV, the Turkish soap opera “Noor” has helped narrow the gender gap between men and women across the Middle East.

    Women see the lead female character – the independent, aspiring fashion designer Noor — as a role model. Meantime, her husband on the show — the blue-eyed former model and athlete Mohannad — has become the region’s first pin-up boy.

    The nightly soap opera has mainly female viewers glued to their TV sets not only because Mohannad is a cuter version of Justin Timberlake, but because he offers something many lack in their lives: romance, tenderness and a supportive partner to his independent wife. Mohannad has become the standard against which many Arab men are being judged, much to their chagrin.

    So what gives? I have to stay awake tonight to watch the blasted thing and see for myself what all the hubub is about.

  • Salman
    31 July 2008

    Mahmood, divorce happens all over the world. No relationship is 100% perfect, and as a married man, you know that yourself.

    You cannot stand up and claim that not once you have had an argument with your wife, or have lost your temper with her. Can you?

    When I mentioned this show being a plague, its that people have started spending money just to go to Turkey to visit the places they shot the series, and hoping to meet the guy. Women demanding their husbands start cutting their hair like the male actor, or else they will file for divorce. Some guys have become so desperate to be him that they have started taking up the Turkish language just to speak to their wives of fiances in Turkish. Is that a good thing? Sounds more of an obbession to me.

    Of course, every woman dreams of having a man that will pamper her 24/7 and treat her like a princess. Yea, that will happen if we were living in a Disney fairy tale, won’t it?

  • mahmood
    31 July 2008

    What has this got to do with anything? And what business is it of yours what people decide to do with their money? Whether burning it or using it to go to wherever they want to go?

    From what I learnt so far, this show – although no successful in its native country it seems – has touched a nerve in our society and got those who watch it to ask new questions and view the world through a different viewpoint. This is good and I hope it continues.

    A culture that does not grow and change with time will simply atrophy and disappear.

  • mahmood
    31 July 2008

    FINALLY! I’M WATCHING IT NOW. Phew. Let’s see what happens… but the eyes are closing.

  • mahmood
    31 July 2008

    what’s with the stupid camera angles? it’s 20 minutes into the show and there is hardly any dialogue but a very long melodramatic song being played with the two main characters not being able to decide what to do next with their lives after deciding to separate.

    okay, bed time. I just checked and it’s playing again at 5.30PM tomorrow, much more civilised time to watch it.

  • grace
    31 July 2008

    Mahmood,

    I know what everybody is saying, either i am weird, or i read into things way too much for my own good… Hell, no wonder i am not married yet :S

    Seriously speaking, it just shows you how people interpret things over here. No wonder, after one year into the marriage there isn’t any love lost between the two?!

    Common sense people… is that too much to ask…

    Conspiracy theory once again: Maybe they’re playing Muhanad to make women stop fighting for their rights and the family law!!

  • Steve the American
    1 August 2008

    Grace: “Yes everybody over here also freely chooses their spouses, arranged marriages, have probably come down to 20% and even then the bride and groom get to meet and chat to see if there is any chemistry between them. Your problem my friend is that you sit behind your screen and judge others without living amongst them, basically treating everybody outside the US border as fictional characters on an Atari… Hmm now who does that remind me of? It must be a cultural thing… Perhaps a little less turkey around thanksgiving and a bit more commonsense will do you well.”

    Hmmm, Grace, thank you so much for the lecture. When I went to Egypt I talked quite a bit with Egyptians. I had no idea they were all fictional characters on an Atari. They looked awfully real to me. So did all those other people in Europe and Asia when I visited there. And lived there.

    One of our Egyptian security guards said basically he picked his wife on the very briefest of encounters. From an American perspective, it was like seeing somebody in passing in public once, going to dinner with her and her family, and then proposing. I told him he was a big gambler.

    And by the way, I love turkey. Thanks for the suggestion. May I suggest some crow for you?

  • Steve the American
    1 August 2008

    Mahmood: “A culture that does not grow and change with time will simply atrophy and disappear.”

    Or does it explode?

  • ArabianMonkey
    2 August 2008

    The irony tickles me. While the Mufti protests, the rights to dub and distribute in Arabic this Turkish series was bought by the Saudi owned media company that airs it! Hilarious.

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