The president of Turkey is not a Game of Thrones fan. Maybe he thought the Red Wedding went too far, maybe he’s pissed that Joffrey’s dead, or maybe his parents canceled their HBO subscription and now he doesn’t want anyone else to have it. Regardless of his reasoning, as of Sunday, the Turkish military is no longer allowed to watch Game Of Thrones.
The announcement comes at a particularly interesting time for Turkey. Its military has been staunchly secular over the last century despite having a population that is mostly Islamic. The military has overthrown the government in three different coups, the last being an Islamist led regime in 1997. The current regime, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is enjoying extremely high levels of popularity and apparently thinks it’s a good time to tighten up and impose Islamic policies.
While no Game Of Thrones is a big deal, it’s equally huge that the Turkish government is imposing a course in Islam on the military. That signals an express desire to increase the role of religion in the government. The banning of Game Of Thrones could simply be explained away by the rules already in place prohibiting “sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment, and all negative behavior.”
Right now, President Erdogan is riding high on new found prosperity. During his tenure, per capita income has tripled. That goodwill has led him to increase restrictions on alcohol, advise how many children women should have, and speak out against male and female students living together. Popularity alone doesn’t ensure survival in the Middle East though — just ask the now-ousted former president of Egypt, who was elected into office. The political maneuverings in the region make Game Of Thrones look like child’s play.
(Photo: HBO promo)