A Yemeni and Arab man has been executed after murdering five people, among then one woman, in an effort to imitate a Turkish soap opera.
Mohamed al-Ali al-Azab, 31, admitted before a crowd of tribal chieftains, who gathered to witness his execution, that his crime was inspired by the Turkish TV series ‘Valley of Wolves.’
The incident began with a dispute between Azab and another man in the Dawran district in the western governorate of Dhama and culminated with Azab killing five people, amongst them the other man’s mother in a shootout.
After a lot of resistance, Azab finally ran out of ammunition and had to surrender. He was then sentenced to death in a tribal trial. The sentence, said tribal chiefs, was aimed at stopping the vendetta expected to follow the murder and which would likely take many more lives.
Tribal executions are common in Dhamar were people rarely resort to state courts. In murder cases, the murderer, accompanied by members of his family and tribe, goes to the victim’s family carrying his coffin, a ritual known as “the passageway to salvation.”
It is up to the victim’s family to forgive the murderer and their decision is made public in an open place where members of several tribes are present. If they don’t forgive him, he is sentenced to death.
Turkish soap operas have lately caused a lot of family problems in Yemen and Arabia as whole, especially romantic ones that featured scenes quite uncommon in the conservative Yemeni and Arab society and that have allegedly led to an increase in divorce cases.
Wives in particular are complaining that their husbands as not as romantic as the male characters in the soap operas. This was particularly the case the show titled “Noor.”
Valley of the Wolves, which caused the murder, was also the reason for a family crisis in the Red Sea city of al- Hudaydah when one month ago a 20-year-old wife asked her husband for a divorce for not wearing jeans and not being as elegant as the lead character of the soap opera. It was only the mediation of relatives that stopped the separation.
According to sociologist Khaled Modhesh, the problem with Turkish soap operas is that they reflect a culture that, though Muslim, is to a great extent influenced by the West.
“These soap operas introduce to honorable Muslim Yemeni and Arabs a set of social values that are alien to their religious beliefs and social norms and this constitutes a grave threat to their identity,” he told Al Arabiya.
For Sheikh Mohamed Salem, a mosque imam, Turkish TV shows can easily spread corruption because of the similarities with Arab cultures.
“Turkey is in many aspects close to the Arab world and this makes Arabs attracted to its traditions while not realizing that they are heavily affected by the West and therefore destroy the ethics of the youth.”
Salem noted that unlike Yemeni and Arab society, Turkish drama is very daring is tackling a lot of sensitive issues.
“They are too liberal in the topics they discuss and the way they discuss them.”