Algerian reality show contestants recite the Quran

A reality show airing in Algeria on state-owned TV is a competition between men who recite the Quran. ENTV’s Knights of the Quran “allows viewers to vote for their favourite reciter” and will announce its winner, the “Knight of Quran,” on the final day of Ramadan, The National Reports.

The show “replaces two racy music talent shows that were pulled out from Algerian screens by the state-owned broadcasters following pressure from Islamic political parties” and is “designed to appease religious conservatives increasingly concerned at pervasive western influences,” according to The National. The Middle East’s version of Idol, Star Academy, has already been banned.

The paper reports that more than 16,000 men applied to the show, which is “being promoted by the religious affairs ministry” and “is one of many Quran recitation contests that will be held throughout the Muslim world this month.”

Marwan Kraidy is working on a book about reality TV and the Middle East, and told the paper, “Once you put Quranic recitation in the form of a game show, there is a give and take. The Islamic form does not stay pure as there is a mixture with popular culture. … It could be a way for the government to appease the Islamists to say ‘Look, you are demonstrating against these shows, you are constantly objecting to these kinds of talent shows, here we are offering you a talent show that furthers your aims’. It’s partly a political compromise with the Islamists to appease them because they have been very vocal in Algeria and elsewhere against these western-formatted shows,” Kraidy said.

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