Fri, 12 May 2000

FPI protests SCTV over 'Esmeralda'

JAKARTA (JP): A private television station has suspended rerunning the popular Latin-American soap opera Esmeralda due to protests from the Defenders of Islam (FPI), who have alleged the show defames Islam.

FPI's chief of staff Reza Pahlevi said the series featured a character named Fatimah, which also happened to be the name of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

Reza said the television series gave a false and misleading impression to young viewers who were only just beginning to learn Islamic history.

"One of my students in our Koran reading course even remembered Fatimah in the TV series as a bad woman, instead of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad who was a good woman," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He claimed that a study conducted by FPI found that the telenovela, which was aired every weekday morning, was a favorite among housewives and children.

"We consider the program intentionally defames Islam. We think that SCTV has made a mistake since the program was aired last year without a study," he said. The series was broadcast by the channel in its entirety last year.

Reza said FPI sent a protest letter to the station on May 2, asking SCTV to stop broadcasting the Mexican telenovela.

He said about 60 members of FPI visited the station on May 4 to further press their demand.

"We still rejected the TV series although the station management offered to change the name of Fatimah. They should stop the telenovela," he said.

Reza threatened SCTV by saying FPI would come with a bigger contingent if the station resumes the program.

SCTV suspended the program on Monday and replaced it with Indonesian films. About 132 of the 150 episodes had been aired.

In its negotiations with FPI, the station offered to change the name of Fatimah and tried to convince the group that Fatimah changes her ways and become a good character by the end of the series.

It also tried to tell the group Muslim cultures did not have a monopoly over the name of Fatimah.

But, so far, FPI have rejected all SCTV's overtures. (jun)