Turks protest TV drama showing boozing sultan

ISTANBUL Sun Jan 9, 2011 7:18pm IST

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish protestors angry over the depiction of an Ottoman sultan drinking alcohol and wooing women in a new television series threw eggs and chanted "God is Great" outside of the broadcaster's studio on Sunday.

A group of about 100 protestors, accompanied by a band playing Ottoman military music, marched to the offices of the entertainment channel Show TV, which broadcasts "The Magnificent Century", in Istanbul's financial district of Levent.

The historical drama shows Sultan Suleiman I, also called Suleiman the Magnificent who ruled from 1494 to 1566, with his wives and concubines in his harem.

It also shows him drinking alcohol, which is proscribed by Islam. Ottoman sultans were also caliphs, or Islamic leader, until the theocracy was toppled and the secular Turkish Republic that succeeded it abolished the caliphate in 1924.

Demonstrators ripped down posters advertising "The Magnificent Century" near Show TV's offices and threw eggs at the channel's windows.

"Sultan Suleiman was just and moral throughout his lifetime," said Abdullah Demir, 55, who was among the protestors. "To show him as a man who had a predilection for alcohol and women makes us very uncomfortable.

"This is a provocation to make people think it is OK to have sex and to drink," Demir said.

Historians consider Suleiman's reign the height of Ottoman military, political and economic power.

The Radio and Television Supreme Council, Turkey's broadcasting watchdog, has received a record 75,000 complaints since the "The Magnificent Century" aired its first show on Jan 5, CNN Turk reported.

The watchdog regularly bans or suspends TV programmes it deems unsuitable on moral or political grounds, but no ruling has yet been made on the new programme, the channel said.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said last week the government would take measures regarding the series, which had caused him "concern and sadness", but did not elaborate further.

The ruling AK Party is a conservative grouping that calls itself secular but traces its roots to political Islam.

European Union candidate Turkey's population of 73 million is 99.9 percent Muslim but its constitution is secular and the consumption of alchohol is legal.

(Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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