Report: Turkish army bans Game of Thrones, requires officers take course on Islam

The military has been instructed to cease watching the show as part of its new “protection of students” regulations.

November 9, 2014 10:46
2 minute read.
Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Turkey has forbidden army officers from watching the popular hit series Game of Thrones while also requiring them to take classes on Islam, the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported over the weekend.

In a sign of the growing trend toward Islamization, the military has been instructed to cease watching the show as part of its new “protection of students” regulations that ban “sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment, and all negative behavior.”

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According to the report, Turkish army officers were kicked out of a military academy in Istanbul in 2012 for permitting cadets to watch Game of Thrones.

Tension between religious and secular elites has long been one of the underlying fault lines in the predominantly Muslim but constitutionally secular republic, forged from the ruins of an Ottoman theocracy by Ataturk 90 years ago.

Turkey's "Kemalists" flinch at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan advising women on the number of children they should have, fostering restrictions on alcohol and expressing moral outrage over male and female students living together in the same house or flat.

Erdogan has made curbing the clout of the army - self-appointed guardians of secularism who carried out three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pushed an Islamist-led government from power in 1997 - a central mission of his decade in power.

Hundreds of top generals have been jailed for plots to overthrow his government, prompting accusations of a witch-hunt. Where once a deliberate or unintended public slight of the army or of Ataturk might land someone in court, these days religious offence can have the same result. Times are changing.

Erdogan's force of character has ushered in unprecedented political stability which has also brought wealth, per capita income tripling in nominal terms and the days of hyperinflation and chronic currency instability fading to a distant memory.

Despite the secularist backlash and the fierce protests of summer, Erdogan remains the most popular politician in Turkey, his polarizing rhetoric and emotionally blunt manner rallying supporters in the country's conservative Anatolian heartlands.

The AK years, since Erdogan's party was first elected in 2002, has seen a boom in business in that heartland, the emergence of the "Anatolian Tiger" in a country long dominated by a number of large sometimes family-owned companies. A series of opinion polls since the summer protests show zero or little fall in his AK Party's popularity.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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