Love kiss in ‘Chicago Street’ creates drama off-screen

Intimate poster of Syrian actors sparks unexpected controversy.
Thursday 23/07/2020
Syrian actress Sulaf Fawakherji (Sulaf Fawakherji’s Instagram account)
Syrian actress Sulaf Fawakherji (Sulaf Fawakherji’s Instagram account)

DAMASCUS- Syrian soap opera “Chicago Street” has sparked controversy on Arab social media outlets after an advertising poster displayed its two main actors, Sulaf Fawakherji and Mahyar Kaddour, in what some viewed as an indecent posture. Some fans of the actors rejected the criticism, however, as hypocritical.

Fawakherji and Kaddour appeared on the poster striking a romantic pose, with their lips almost touching. Conservative voices said the posture did not respect “Arab societies’ customs and traditions” and accused the actors and the series’ producers of immorality and sensationalism.

A poster of Syrian soap opera “Chicago Street” (Sulaf Fawakherji’s Instagram account).
A poster of Syrian soap opera “Chicago Street” (Sulaf Fawakherji’s Instagram account).

In response, Fawakherji said that she had not expected such controversy over the poster. She said “she accepts constructive criticism,” but had a problem with “the vociferous insults (she has) received.”

Fawakherji posted an image of the advertising poster on her Instagram account, but due to a series of insults and critical responses opted to disable the comments feature. In her defence, she displayed a similar poster of the old Egyptian film “Abi foq al-Shagara” by the late Abdel Halim Hafez and Nadia Lotfi to push back against the criticism. She said that the film featuring Hafez and Lotfi was among the most popular movies of the 1950s and 1960s and its poster was not attacked as indecent.

She noted that her poster is also similar to those featuring stars like Omar Sharif, Rushdy Abaza, Abdel Halim Hafez and Ahmed Ramzy striking intimate poses with famous actresses like Faten Hamama, Shadia, Souad Hosni, Magda and Lubna Abdulaziz.

Some fans defended the Syrian actress’s position. They said criticism over the poster was hypocritical because many of those criticising it have no problem with similar sentimental displays and consider them legitimate forms of artistic expression when shown in Hollywood films and other soap operas.

Fawakherji’s husband, Syrian actor Wael Ramadan, supported his wife by republishing the poster with the words of encouragement: “Go on, dear Sulaf!”

The official poster of the Syrian soap opera “Chicago Street” (Sulaf Fawakherji’s Instagram account).
The official poster of the Syrian soap opera “Chicago Street” (Sulaf Fawakherji’s Instagram account).

“Chicago Street” is a Syrian drama series produced by Kaband Art Production. It was scheduled to air this Ramadan, but filming had to stop due to the coronavirus pandemic and the broadcast was postponed to July 26, 2020 (on OSN TV).

The series stars Fawakherji, Khaddour, Abbas Al-Nouri, Amal Arafa, Duraid Lahham, Nadine Salameh, Nadine Khoury and Hussam Al-Shah. The story goes back and forth between two time periods, focusing on the everyday life of Syrian society through a love story filled with drama, hope and conflict.