'Esmerelda' causes stir with Fatima character

Televisa has denied insulting Muslims after one of its telenovelas was abruptly dropped midseries in Indonesia.

Jakarta-based SCTV abandoned “Esmerelda” because one of the sudser’s baddies, Fatima, described in the Mexican web’s promo notes as “selfish and calculating,” bears the same name as the daughter of the prophet Mohammed.

Second airing

Ironically, it was the second time the novela has been broadcast in Indonesia; the first time it passed without controversy.

Televisa, the world’s largest telenovela producer with annual soap sales of around 70,000 hours (including many to Islamic countries from North Africa to Southeast Asia), quickly moved to play down the incident.

“We certainly didn’t mean to cause offense to anyone, and we apologize if that has happened here,” a Televisa exec told Daily Variety. “We will look into this.”

Affront to Front

Starring Leticia Calderon, one of Televisa’s most popular thesps, “Esmerelda” had gained a huge following until suddenly being pulled from the airwaves. SCTV public relations manager Budi Darmawan said the move was made following calls from the Front for the Protection of Islam.

In its place, the private Indonesian web, which now ranks No. 2 or 3 among five, is airing the repeat of another novela, “Rosalinda.”

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