Egyptian Networks Cancel Turkish Soaps

Several Egyptian TV channels boycott Turkish drama series, in protest against Erdogan’s condemnation of the country's coup.

Elad Benari ,

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Several Egyptian TV channels have launched a boycott of Turkish drama series, in protest against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stance on the violent unrest in the country, Al Arabiya reported on Sunday.

Erdogan urged the United Nations Security Council to intervene after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. On Saturday, Erdogan lashed out at the lack of international response on Egypt, saying organizations including the UN and EU should be ashamed of their inaction.

Erdogan previously condemned the military intervention that toppled Morsi as an enemy of democracy, and chastised the West for failing to brand the ouster a coup.

"Those who rely on the guns in their hands, those who rely on the power of the media cannot build democracy.... Democracy can only be built at ballot box," said Erdogan, who had forged friendly relations with Morsi during the Egyptian's one-year in power.

"The West has failed the sincerity test," said Erdogan. "No offence, but democracy does not accept double standards."

The Turkish Prime Minister’s comments drew the scorn of Egypt’s Cinema Syndicate and The Egyptian Creativity Front - a group of writers, poets, artists, filmmakers, journalists and scientists, reported Al Arabiya. The group urged Egyptian networks to stop airing Turkish TV soaps, which have become widely popular in the Arab world.

A number of TV channels, including Al-Hayat, Al-Nahar, and Al-Kahera Wal Nas, have responded to the call by boycotting the soaps, according to the report.

The Al-Hayat TV channel informed its viewers that starting Saturday there will not be any Turkish drama TV series due to Erdogan’s stance.

The owner of Al-Kahera Wal Nas, Tarek Nour, told Al Arabiya that in spite of the financial losses that they may face, the networks are keen to convey a message of protest to Turkey. Turkish dramas are said to attract healthy advertising rates on his channel due to high viewership they receive.

Nour expressed his discomfort over Turkey’s intervention in Egypt’s internal affairs, describing Ankara’s position on the situation as “narrow minded,” according to Al Arabiya.

While Turkish soaps are usually produced in privately owned studios unrelated to the government, the boycott could put some pressure on Ankara, said Nour.

He highlighted how the soaps have helped Turkey lure more tourists from Egypt and the region, adding that boycott will result in “huge losses” for Turkey.

Ibrahim Hamouda, the general director of Al-Nahar, said his TV station had also decided to stop broadcasting Turkish drama. He urged other TV stations to do the same.

The day after Morsi was ousted by the army, and in a rare show of unity, both Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and its opposition Republican People's Party condemned the overthrow.

AKP spokesperson Huseyin Celik told reporters that the coup was a sign of "backwardness," and accused some Western nations of having supported the overthrow.