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“I wish for everybody to get rid of this worry. The artistic and cultural life in Turkey will in no way go backward,” Gunay said.

But Erdogan suggested that state support for theater should be contingent on stagings that meet state approval. “If support is needed, then as the government we provide sponsorship to plays we want,” he said.

Erdogan’s proposal came after Mustafa Isen, secretary general of the presidential palace, proposed establishing conservative artistic norms. Critics have alleged that the government wants more plays by Islamist playwrights.

The government is currently scrutinizing a weekly TV police show, Behzat C, in which the lead character, a homicide detective, drinks alcohol, curses, beats suspects and had an out-of-wedlock affair.

“The channel that broadcasts Behzat C has been twice punished for airing programs promoting alcohol and cigarettes and which could do possible harm to moral development at an hour when young people can watch it,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said. “We’re monitoring the broadcasts closely.”

The broadcaster, Star TV, said it has no plans to remove the show. But Muzaffer Balci, the president of the country’s Green Crescent Society, which fights alcohol and tobacco consumption, has predicted it will not last.

“A policeman who is always holding a bottle of alcohol in his hand cannot be promoted as a hero,” he said on his organization’s website.