Monday, 9 January 2017

BBC's 'Real Housewives of Isis': Sanction, Invasion, Satirisation

Sanction, Invasion, Satirisation

Suicide bombings, beheadings, rape and terrorism are jokes when it’s in Muslim countries apparently 

[This is an exclusive piece written for the Malcolm X Movement, by brother Ali Muratović]

‘The Real Wives of ISIS’ makes ‘Muslims Like Us’ seem like a pro-Islam propaganda piece. It’s that bad. When I logged onto Facebook on Wednesday a friend had posted a link to, and a succinct analysis of, a sketch from the BBC’s appropriately named ‘Revolting’ to be broadcast this coming Tuesday, 10th January at10pm:

My friend’s post read: ‘From the same company who knew they were employing kiddy fiddlers and did nothing about it. All fun and games until you’re reporting about the horrors of it and how they are brain washing British people. Wouldn't see this about the holocaust would you?! Leave it bbc.’

And that’s the point. An institution prepared to cover for paedophilia and the rape of children is not going to have any problem demonising Muslims. The video has already been seen by 15 million internet users.

It should be no surprise that the British regime propaganda network, after more than 20 years of intensive anti-Islam propaganda needed to back up the Global War on/of Terror, produces a sketch deliberately mocking, demonising and minimising the suffering of Muslims in Iraq and Syria and more specifically the British Muslim families who have had their young daughters migrate there often without their knowledge.

A now global conflict which has torn regions, countries, tribes, communities, families and even individuals apart, is certainly NOT a joke. If the British find it funny to laugh at their own largely poor/working class WWII dead in Dad’s Army and similar comedy that’s one thing. It’s not any of their business to be laughing at other people. I’m sure if we found it funny we have more than enough Iraqi, Syrian and Muslim channels to do it ourselves. Perhaps, unlike the British, we Muslims take our civilization seriously.

The’ scary’ scarf

Central to the sketch is of course the presence of the headscarf, mentioned in the Qu’ran (24:30-31 and 33:58-59) and regarded wajib (compulsory) by almost every Muslim faqih (jurist). It’s worth mentioning here that women are not required to wear it in the home though to be fair that’s not easy to communicate in sketch format.

How often are visibly Muslim women given their own space on television in the UK? Aside from the impressive Nadiya Hussain, rarely if it isn’t a report or discussion about war, terrorism or ‘extremism’ (to be fair despite the deliberate instigation of intra-Muslim conflict this is something that Muslims Like Us did pretty well on).

On one occasion when a Hijabi was promoted to a position of serious prominence, Fatima Manji, a reporter and newsreader at Channel 4, received a vicious Islamophobic attack from The Sun’s Kelvin MacKenzie who questioned whether the sister should be reporting on news stories relating to terrorism. Why exactly would the sister have been singled out by MacKenzie? It was crystal clear in the headline ‘Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?’

A lady wearing a headscarf should stay in her lane according Britain’s best-selling newspaper, which is not all that different to the ideology propagated by ISIS.

In this context of rising Islamophobia, particularly directed towards sisters who publicly carry the flag of Islam on their heads and have borne the brunt of attacks for example herehere and here, within the past year, we should be looking to promote a true and naturally positive image of Muslim sisters.

What ‘The Real Wives of ISIS’ does instead is to reinforce the sort of propaganda that leads to these attacks in the first place and places the scarf in the strict and exclusive context of death squad terrorism.

Not only this, but the depth of the propaganda here extends to lies including that; Muslim women are happy with a lack of autonomy, would joke about literally being chained to a kitchen sink, hashtagging Jihadi Jane (I guess using her real name of Colleen LaRose would be inconvenient), mocking grooming (I doubt the white English grooming victims of Rotherham, Jimmy Saville, and elsewhere in the British establishment will be taunted as complicit very soon) and that the worst thing women in ISIS held areas have to deal with are ‘matching suicide vests’.

The serious issues of disappearance of women from public life, forced marriage, elimination of bodily autonomy in general and slavery are minimised when the Arab, the South Asian and the Muslim is the victim.

Iraq and Syria as Untermensch non-countries

Another case of outright racism, Islamophobia and double-standards is inherent in the context of Iraq and Syria as the setting. You won’t see the British mocking the 7/7 transport bombings or the beheading of Lee Rigby in their green and pleasant land. Where Iraq and Syria is involved, well of course, after decades of sanctions, demonisation, bombings and invasions, it’s fair game.

There are things that COULD be satirised about ISIS, if that’s your thing. I don’t think most people would have an issue with Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his death squad operatives being mocked for the tyrants they are. Nor the criminal actions of Bush, Blair, Cameron, Clinton and Kerry that enabled the rise of ISIS in the first place ie. British/American/NATO sanctions, invasions and regime change operations in Iraq and Syria. Not to mention the deliberate pouring of billions of pounds worth of weapons and arms into both countries to stimulate war, division, sectarianism and general destruction and ruin. That SHOULD be mocked and called-out at every opportunity.

The Real Sisters of the Ummah

Let alone might we see the BBC provide empowering examples of pro-women pro-liberation Islam of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which they dutifully helped destroy (shown in this excellent and moving documentary film), or the leadership of women in Iran personified by Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar, or the innumerable women of leadership and knowledge in Indonesia and Malaysia. Still yet the history of Zainab al Ghazali (1917-2005), member of the Egyptian Feminist’s Union and founder of Jama'at al-Sayyidat al-Muslimat (Muslim Women's Association) who lectured to thousands during the months of Ramadhan. Some of her writing is documented in Ayyām min ḥayātī (‘Days from my life) about her time in prison.

Instead we can be sure in the coming months and years that ‘The Real Wives of ISIS’ is just one more piece in the puzzle that depicts the hijab for the MacKenzie’s of this world as ISIS-like. That it makes us worried for our mothers, wives and sisters who will be viewed as terrorists like the actresses in the sketch.

Do the BBC expect the dark jokes about a deadly group ruining and taking the lives of human beings of every colour and creed in their thousands, with weapons from the West, to be found amusing by the families who have lost their dear loved ones?

And finally, a prediction: The British dedication to their ‘rich history of satire’ is unlikely to be in operation when the chickens come home for a long overdue roosting.

Ali Muratović