The new TV series "Magnificent Century" set in the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century created quite a stir in the Turkish media and public. The series was launched on Show TV in the beginning of January. It was criticized by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), the Anatolian Agency, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and the responsible Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. The series furthermore took flak from nationalist and Islamic parties.
Members of the Prosperity Party (SP) and the Anatolian Youth Association were accompanied by janissary musicians when they walked to the building of Show TV to express their protest against the series. Demonstrators destroyed advertisements of the series. Saying 'Allah is great', they also shouted slogans such as "Don't sleep, government; take care of our history" and "Break the hands of the ones who touch the Ottomans".
The group of protestors put up banners reading "Don't sleep, RTÜK; end this disgrace", "Our case is not about a prudish conqueror; to the contrary, our case is a case on Islam", "The children of Byzantium are disturbed by the Ottomans", "Love it or hate it" and "The laws could not protect the one who gave the laws".
A group affiliated with the Istanbul Provincial Presidency of the 'Alperen Ocakları' expressed their protest in a visit to the tomb of Suleyman the Magnificent in the garden of the Sultan Suleyman Mosque in Istanbul. The 'Alperen' group follows a synthesis between nationalism and Islamism.
RTÜK: Extraordinary high number of complaints
RTÜK President Davut Dursun indicated, "The total number of 65,000 to75,000 complaints were filed by viewers in 2009 and 2010 on average. Very rarely have we faced a comparable number of complaints as filed against the series now. 93 percent of the complaints that came in starting from the evening of 6 January were related to the series. Experts are now checking whether the series complies with the principles of broadcasting. If violations are determined, sanctions will be applied".
MHP: Our ancestry should be protected
Oktay Vural, Deputy Head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group, said, "I hope the necessary steps will be taken regarding the awakening of this kind of different opinions on our history and our ancestry as done by the series".
MHP Member of Parliament Alım Işık demanded, "This series blasphemes our history. If the channel itself does not stop the broadcast, RTÜK has to do it immediately".
Arınç: Words are not enough...
In an announcement made at parliament, Deputy PM Arınç said, "Sultan Suleyman who brought so many laws is known for his greatness in the world and during the Ottoman era. He is known as 'Suleyman the Magnificent'. It was aimed to show him in his harem, fond of drinking and even in certain scenes that I cannot express in words..."
"Taking into consideration the reactions of the viewers, the television channel might think about cancelling the series. Only a law considering the tainting of the memory of Atatürk is in effect. But it should also cover other kinds of humiliation and insult against important personalities of our history who are dear to us".
Okay: Children not conceived by pollination...
Prof. Erhan Afyoncu from the Marmara University Faculty of Arts and Science was the history advisor for the series. He said he did not see the point in the reactions of the viewers.
Scriptwriter Meral Okay indicated, "We are not shooting a documentary to be shown at school. The children of the sultan were not conceived by pollination. Since he did have a sex life and a family, we were inspired by historic facts and characters when we produced this series within the rules of television". (EÜ/EÖ/VK)
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