Arab cops hunt jihadi terrorists. A con artist becomes president of Egypt. A mosque preacher falls in love with a secular violinist at the opera house. These are just a few of the plots for dozens of new TV shows playing to 90 million households in the Arab world this month. Ramadan is a time of fasting and contemplation””but in the Middle East, it’s also the most high-stakes period for hundreds of satellite channels in 21 Arab countries.
Most serials made their debut with the new moon on July 8 and air nightly after daylong fasting is broken at sunset. This year’s story lines reflect the political upheavals rocking the Arab world and suggest that the region””or at least those producing the shows””are tilting against Islamism.