(23 August) An Islamic
advocacy group has called for a ban on the TV drama ?Where the Sky Meets the Sand (Fah Jarod
Sai in Thai)?, alleging that it depicts Muslims in a bad light.
Muslim Group For Peace
said in its statement that the drama has misunderstood the followers of Islam, portraying Muslims
as being cruel toward women and children, and airing lasphemous contents about the Islamic
The drama airs on the state-owned Channel 7, one of the ?free TV? channels in
The group, based in Bangkapi District of Bangkok, revealed that it had filed
complaints to Mr. Anudith Nakornthap, Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT),
the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commision (NBTC), and the producers of the series,
Bangkok Broadcasting & TV Co., Ltd.
The drama has offended the feelings of Muslim people
… We believe that if the Ministry [of ICT] allowed the TV-Series to air further, it may have
caused wider and unexpected consequences, the statement reads.
It concludes: It would be
best to stop airing the series as soon as possible
‘Where the Sky Meets the Sand’ is
based on the novel of the same name, written by the novelist Sopak Suwan in 1961.
told the story through the point of view of its main female character ‘Michelle’, a
half-French-half-Asian woman, who travels to a fictional country called ‘Hilfara’ with her Muslim
best friend ‘Kachfiya’. Hilfarah is depicted as an empire in the desert ruled by King
Kachfiya was destined by an astrologer to be married to the king, but she refuses and
insists her love to her French beau ‘Robert’. Kachfiya then plans to send Michelle to her destined
groom instead of her.
However, on the night Michelle travels to the palace, Prince Oman
decided to overthrow his elder brother. Michelle is then saved by the King’s Bodyguard ‘Shareef’,
who is also the third in line to the throne. The couple adventures in the desert throughout the the
story before Shareef finally kills Prince Oman.
Heated argument started on the Muslim Group
for Peace’s Facebook page, as many fans of the series stormed in to call for explanation of the
group′s ill feeling toward the drama. The popular webforum Pantip is also full of discussions about
The Muslim group says it is particularly incensed by the perception that
Hilfara′s Muslim citizens restrict women from having education which, they say, is in contrast to
On Pantip, some netizens discussed about the statement, and cited the phrase
from books which Michelle said “I heard that in the country where Kachfiya came from, they do not
think it is appropriate to provide women education”. Many people argued that the phrase referred to
a Country (Hilfara), not a belief.
Moreover, they pointed out, Hilfara was an imaginary
Country, depicted by the novelist who wrote the story over 50 years ago.
The series producers
certainly took pain to stress its fictional setting. At the beginning of the show, a message is
displayed stating that the drama is a fictional story based on the novel, and the producers
try their best to stick to the material in the novel.
The statement continues that the
producers are willing to take any criticism against any mistake in the series. At the end of each
episode, a message also thanks the Thai Islamic Centre for its suggestions on the
Moreover, some netizens argued that it is true that women are not allowed to go
to school in some Muslim societies, citing the case of Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistani girl targeted
by Taliban death squads for her women education campaign.
So far, the Muslim Group for Peace
did not release any further statement explaining how the TV series insulted Muslim
The producer of ?Where the Sky Meets the Sand?, Mr. Siam Sangwaributr, has told
our correspondent that he has already received the complaint, but he needs more time before he can
comment about the matter. The public relations staff
at Channel 7 also refuse to comment on the Muslim group′s complaint.
But Ms. Usamanee
Waitayanon, the famous actress who plays ?Michelle? in the drama, denied that the series is
blasphemous toward Islam. According to the actress, the production team was so sensitive throughout
the filming that they even removed the part when she accidentally exclaimed Oh,
Please don?t connect it to religion. We Thais love all religions, Ms. Usamanee said.
Meanwhile, ?Where the Sky Meet the Sand? was
also attacked by a well-known director for its unrealistic representation. Mr. Chookiat “Ma-Deow”
Sakveerakul, wrote on his Facebook page that, for example, “The film is based on Arab culture, but
the Art Direction in the series was inspired by Roman culture”
Nothing in the series is
Muslim art, even the house and the palace … What a shame!”
He also said that he was surprised
to hear I, the servant of the Lord Buddha in the series, referring to moment when Shareef spoke to
King Ahmed. The phrase is normally used in addressing the Thai (Buddhist) monarchs.
director of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed film Love of Siam continued that
he production team should not think that their audience is stupid, because they are not.”