ANKARA – Turkey is planning to ban popular television dating shows as they do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs, the deputy prime minister has said.

Numan Kurtulmus was referring to matchmaking reality television shows which are very popular in Turkey but receive thousands of complaints every year.

“There are some strange programs that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity,” Kurtulmus said in comments to a provincial TV channel published by the Hurriyet daily on Thursday.

“We are working on this and we are coming to the end of it. God willing, in the near future, we will most likely remedy this with an emergency decree,” Kurtulmus added.

“God willing, we will meet these societal demands,” he said in the interview which took place on Wednesday.

His comments are set to raise concerns in a country whose political system rests on the secular foundations laid by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at its creation in 1923.

Opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government frequently voice fears that Turkey is sliding toward conservative Islam.

Kurtulmus described such programs as counter to Turkey’s “customs, traditions, beliefs, the Turkish family structure and the culture of Anatolian lands”.

He hit back at those who claimed they were ratings successes: “So what the ratings are very high and thus the advertising revenue is high? Let there not be that kind of advertising revenues.”

The deputy premier said he had been told there were 120,000 individual cases of complaints against such programmes.

Last year, Turkey’s audiovisual authority RTUK said it received comments from 10,691 citizens about such programmes, most of which were complaints.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously caused controversy when he likened abortion to murder in 2012 when he was prime minister.

Critics also claim education reforms, including the increase in religious schools, show the country’s secular foundations are being undermined.

The Turkish religious affairs agency Diyanet criticized matchmaking shows last month saying they “exploited family values and desecrated the family institution by stepping on it with (their) feet”.

The Turkish authorities insist there is full freedom of religious belief in the country’s diverse society.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=82110.