Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given the thumbs down to a hit Turkish television series, the “Magnificent Century,” which has riled Turkish conservatives with its steamy depiction of the decadent Ottoman reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Wall Street Journal’s Emre Peker reports:
The show chronicles the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, whose 46-year rule which ended 1566, is seen as the pinnacle of the Ottoman Empire. Attracting a third of the prime-time audience every night it’s on air, and broadcasting to 150 million people in 22 countries from the Czech Republic to Japan, the series is a sure hit for Tims Productions–the Istanbul-based firm behind some of the most successful series and movies in the past decade.
But the decadent representation of Suleiman’s life, hinting that the sultan known as ‘the Lawgiver’ was given to alcohol and promiscuity, also drew widespread criticism from conservatives. […]
In a rhetorical flourish that rallied his supporters but baffled many commentators, the prime minister then meshed his defense of government policy with a salvo against the “Magnificent Century,” arguing for active international engagement by deriding the limited scope of the opposition’s stance and the show’s limited focus the luxuries of the palace.
“That’s not the Sultan Suleiman we know, that’s not the Lawgiver we know, 30 years of his life was spent on horseback, not in a palace like you see in TV shows,” Mr. Erdogan told a cheering crowd of thousands at an airport opening ceremony in the western province of Kutahya on Sunday.
“I publicly condemn the directors of those shows and the owners of the television station. We have warned the authorities on this matter and await a decision by the judiciary. We can’t have this sort of an understanding, the nation needs to give the appropriate lesson, within the confines of the law, to those who play with the people’s values,” the prime minister said.
(The Turkish premier has yet to weigh in on Al-Monitor’s top 11 list of Middle East comedians.)
(Photo: A billboard advertising the TV series “The Magnificent Century” is seen after being damaged by eggs thrown by pro-Islamic protesters in Istanbul January 9, 2011. A steamy television period drama about a 16th century sultan has angered conservative Muslims in Turkey and sparked a debate over the portrayal of the past in a country rediscovering its Ottoman heritage. REUTERS/Murad Sezer.)