Turkey was long viewed as a symbol of secularism in the Islamic world — an alternative to the rigid Islamic governments imposing medieval Sharia laws to their populations. Then came the election of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has steadily broken down secular tradition and introduced more and more Islamic influences in government. (You may recall Erdogan recently declaring that Muslims discovered America and that there was proof of a Mosque in Cuba when Columbus arrived) The fines imposed this week by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) have reaffirmed those concerns. RTUK officials imposed as fine of 410,000 Turkish lira ($177,000, 145,000 euros) against The game show, “I Don’t Know, My Spouse Knows.” The episode in question showed wives pictures of their husbands dancing with foreign women. That was deemed “contrary to public morality and the Turkish family structure.”
Turkey remains one of my favorite countries to visit and it is sad to see the country descend into the same religious orthodoxy as their neighbors. Turkey represented a critical partner for Western countries, a symbol that it is possible to be a nation with a majority of Muslims and still believe in the separation of religion and state. From the very beginning of his ascent to the presidency, Erdogan has played the religion card in rallying devout Muslims while attacking secular principles. The threat for women and religious minorities — as well as journalists and civil libertarians — has continued to rise during his tenure.
The four wives shown the films were aghast and angry but the Turkish government was apparently irate over the immorality of men dancing with women other than their wives. It said that the show “encouraged men to cheat on their wives and provided an environment to disturb the family peace.” It also said that such dancing “reduced [women] to sexual objects”.
The head of RTUK, Davut Dursun, insisted that he was merely trying to stop an “ugly” display and that they “made the decision that the show was not in line with the concept of the family.”