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The crackdown has also caused major strains with the European Union, which Turkey has sought to join for the last half century in a so far fruitless membership drive.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday the EU's top officials will seek a meeting with Erdogan at a NATO summit next month despite the mounting tensions with Ankara.

Opponents of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government frequently voice fears that Turkey is sliding toward conservative Islam under Erdogan.

But AKP supporters have said that dating shows receive thousands of complaints every year and the ban is in the public interest.

The DJ and presenter, 42, will host the series, matching singletons in the countryside with city dwellers looking for romance – as well as a new life.

Airing on BBC2, Love In The Countryside is being billed as a “warm-hearted show… Urbanites who “want to escape to the country and fall in love” are being invited to apply.

- ' Sanctity of the family' - In a decree issued late Saturday evening, Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government.This tends to suggest the emergence of a post-socialist romantic subjectivity, embodying a complex power dynamic between tradition and modernity.The BBC has unveiled a new dating show – with Sara Cox helping farmers to find love.Almost 500 academics working for state institutions were also dismissed.The dismissals came after Turkey on April 26 detained more than 1,000 people and suspended over 9,100 police in a vast new crackdown against alleged supporters of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the failed July 15 coup bid.

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