Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa has published a statement accusing Turkey of trying to create an “area of influence” for itself in the Middle East using its soft power, according to Yeni Şafak English.
The Global Fatwa Index (GFI) of Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa is one of the Middle East’s oldest and most influential bodies responsible for issuing fatwas, or religious edicts, on all aspects of worship and life.
The recent statement targeted the globally-popular drama “Resurrection: Ertugrul”, claiming that it aims to revive the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and regain sovereignty over Arab countries which were previously under Ottoman rule, and therefore, should not be watched.
GFI stated: “They [Erdogan and his followers] export to the people and nations the idea that they are the leaders of the caliphate, responsible for supporting Muslims worldwide and being their salvation from oppression and injustice, while also seeking to implement Islamic law. They hide the fact that their main drive in these colonial campaigns is what [Turkish President] Erdogan reaps from material and political gains.”
It also claimed that the Turkish president would do anything to spread his power across the world, even using cultural or artistic products.
Set around the deeds of 13th-century Ertugrul Gazi, a warrior and the father of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, it depicts the struggle between a minority group of Turkish nomads in Anatolia against a myriad of adversaries.
Viewers have watched Ertugrul battle crusaders, Mongols, Christian Byzantines and more.
Concerned about the impact these shows are having among its population, Saudi Arabia’s Dubai-based media group MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Centre) has removed Turkish shows from its biggest TV networks in 2018, in what Turkish ministers have described as “clear censorship”.
Media organisations claim that the motivation behind this was political, but experts say that the main purpose is to diminish Turkey’s soft power in the region and undermine its credibility in the eyes of Arab nations.
Despite all these efforts, millions across the Arab world have still been watching Turkish series, especially online. Estimates show that TV series revenues will hit $1 billion in 2023, reported 5PillarsUK.