An imam at a mosque in Syria has issued a fatwa saying that prayers are not valid if worshippers wear T-shirts of their favorite characters from the hit Turkish soaps Years of Loss and Noor.
Sheikh Hamdi al-Makhzoumi, the preacher at Uwais al-Qarni Mosque in Aleppo, told AlArabiya.net he had to intervene as the T-shirts which carry pictures of the stars of the wildly popular Turkish soaps are becoming a phenomenon in his city.
The hugely popular TV soaps are dubbed into Arabic and aired across the region on MBC, the parent company of Al Arabiya.
According to the fatwa, the pictures on the shirts are prohibited by Islam because they distract those who pray and contradict the holiness of the rituals, especially as the women in the pictures are "known for their immorality," being "without a veil," or "in the arms of men."
According to Makhzoumi, the pictures drive angels away from the mosque.
He added that he issued the fatwa in coordination with other clerics in Aleppo who backed him after a large number of teenagers, especially in upper-class districts, started praying in the T-shirts.
This is not the first problem caused by the Arabic version of the Turkish serials, which have drawn record ratings across the Middle East.
Many divorce cases have been reported in Syria because wives complain that their husbands are not as romantic as the lead characters in the hit series.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).