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Feminism & education will be the key (and the Noor soap opera as a bright spot)

Reader comment on item: The Middle East Forum Debates Moderate Islam

Submitted by PezDispenser (Israel), Mar 31, 2014 at 04:08

Dr. Pipes,

My hypothesis is that once the women of the middle east figure out how to unionize and raise the bar to their own treatment (hopefully faster with some outside help), they will succeed in domesticating the angry men of the middle east over time and creating a defacto moderate Islam. Also, media (specifically non-Arab, moderate Muslim media) will play an important role.

For example, I saw a documentary a few days ago about the Turkish romantic soap opera "Noor" (also known as Gümüş). You'd be amazed to see how it took the middle eastern Arab women by storm and struck a chord with hijab-wearing Cairene housewives. Their expectations of how their husbands treat them went up dramatically. "Why doesn't my husband talk to me like [handsome main character]?" was the question that came up. (By the way, the main female character did not wear a hijab but rather dressed in a modern way, the main male character was a Brad Pitt look-alike, and there was kissing.)

My understanding is that the Noor series managed to communicate Western values about love and relationships via Muslim packaging from Turkey. This allowed these Arab women to naturally connect to the content as women, unlike with a Los-Angeles imported soap opera with Christian "infidels" not of the region. This is a "bright spot" and should not be disregarded as mere entertainment. This production company might have stumbled onto something potentially transformative. You should have seen the horror in the eyes of one of the Islamist "marriage counselors" who was interviewed for the documentary. He warned the men not to let their wives watch this show.

Maybe Western-oriented TV production companies in Turkey should receive EU grants to further these norms instead of boosting Palestinian irredentist groups? Finally, while dark forces in Turkey export anti-semitism in the manner of the "Valley of the Wolves" TV series, the Western-oriented Turks in the entertainment business might yet have an important role to play in modernizing the Arabic middle east.

Submitting....

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