- Title: VARIOUS: A new TV series exploring extremism begins filming in Syria
- Date: 15th March 2010
- Summary: DAMASCUS, SYRIA (FEBRUARY 27, 2010) (REUTERS): (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN ACTRESS, RANIAH AL-AHMAD, SAYING: "The economic crisis has affected the whole world, and it has also affected us, because there are people who have work and others who do not because of the crisis. There are many actors who have been out of work for three or four years because they do not have many offers, because the famous people are the only ones who work."
- Reuters ID: LVA8EOTUEAMWH4ZFP3PLMWT5DD6O
- Duration: 00:00:20
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
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- Story Text: Filming has started on a new Syrian drama television series which explores the forces behind Islamic extremism and its treatment of women in the Middle East.
The drama, called "Ma Malakat Aymanokom" ("Your Female Slaves"), will be aired in the summer during the next Holy month of Ramadan, considered prime time viewing for Syrian drama.
The series director Najdat Anzour says the drama targets regional viewers who are still neutral and have yet to decide whether to take the path of extremism or not. He believes that many aspects of Islam are misunderstood and this is what leads some people to extremism.
"The person who is still neutral and has not decided yet to be an extremist or not, this is our target audience. But for those who carry weapons and have already chosen that way, this series will do nothing for them. The majority of society misunderstands this issue. Jihad in Islam is a holy thing and it is one of the five pillars of Islam, but there are misunderstandings regarding Jihad, where it is applicable and the condition under which it should be undertaken. It is a complicated and sensitive issue and we have tried to present it objectively," Anzour said.
The cast includes 90 actors. Experts from the United Kingdom were brought in to work on the fight scenes.
Despite the fact that series such as "Ma Malakat Aymanokom" are popular throughout the region, actors on the series said they and other Syrian actors continue to earn less than their colleagues in other parts of the Arab world.
"Syrian drama has developed, and therefore actors' wages should have increased. Yet the wages of Syrian actors are still very low. The wages in Egypt are double those of a Syrian actor's wages. Our wages are still much less than those elsewhere," said actor Mustafa al-Khani.
The Syrian television industry is one of the better-established in the Middle East, yet the world economic crisis has taken its a toll on the industry in Damascus, said Syrian actress Rania al-Ahmad said. This has further affected Syrian actors' ability to make a living out of their art.
"The economic crisis has affected the whole world, and it has also affected us, because there are people who have work and others who do not because of the crisis. There are many actors who have been out of work for three or four years because they do not have many offers, because the famous people are the only ones who work," she said.
The series is expected to prove a great hit in the region because of the timely and controversial nature of its subject.
The show's theme song is sung by celebrated Syrian singer George Wassouf.
Competition for ratings are fierce during the holy month, when families traditionally gather around their TV sets after the "iftar" meal, which breaks the fast at sunset, to watch their favourite shows on local and pan-Arab channels.
In 2010, Ramadan begins around August 11.
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- Embargoed:30th March 2010 13:00