After “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” and “The Fosters” presented families with pregnant teenagers and lesbian parents, ABC Family attempted to create another groundbreaking show, this time focusing on Muslims.
“Alice in Arabia” was supposed to be about an unruly teenage girl who is kidnapped by her extended family in Saudi Arabia after the death of her parents. She is then swept into the culture where she must “find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil,” according to a show description.
According to “Time,” the show was canceled because of its “simplistic view of Muslims and the Arab world.”
The show was initially given the green light but later garnered a negative public reaction, according to “The Guardian.”
After reading the plot for the show, I can only ask myself, “What was ABC Family even thinking?”
A show with so much obvious ignorance in the plot should never have been considered for production.
Furthermore, as if as a Muslim I am not stereotyped enough, now I needed a show to just add the whipped cream on top of the ice cream of ignorance.
Despite its cancellation, ABC Family only decided not to go through with the show because of complaints from Muslim advocacy groups in the United States.
My question in all this, however, is where was the voice from the rest of the world, not just Muslim advocacy groups?
When is it ever OK to initially approve a show that contains enough racism and ignorance to offend a religion consisting of more than 1.6 billion people?
I am not going to lie, ABC Family has some great shows. I thoroughly enjoy watching its movies and even “Pretty Little Liars” (yes, I will admit it), but it’s truly crossed the line to even consider production of “Alice in Arabia.”
One just has to read the plot to realize “Alice in Arabia” is not only racist, but is further enforcing the stereotypes we Muslims face on a constant basis.
The plot itself just screams obvious. The pure innocent white American girl who will be clad in a veil will be unable to speak, her identity hidden from the world.
Just when we think she will be overtaken by such an oppressive culture (yes, I said culture, not religion) she will rip her veil off and speak her mind, showing the true meaning of liberty and freedom.
Hey guess what! I didn’t need a show to define what liberty and freedom means.
As a Muslim woman born and raised in the United States, the hijab (headscarf) has become a part of my identity.
The hijab has instilled power in me to prove to others that intellect and personality are even more powerful than good looks.
So no, ABC Family, the veil is not oppressive, and I don’t think we need a television show to just add on the ignorance and assumptions that have been ingrained in the minds of so many Americans.
Although the show was scrapped, the fact that it was considered for production is such a strong reminder that we as Muslims are losing our voices in the light of those who preach ignorance and hate.
From women being seen as oppressed to the constant terrorist angle being thrown at us by the mainstream media, a show like this only makes me question, are we as Muslims truly taken seriously?
As a “Time” opinion article said, “American Muslims have lost control of their narratives both online and in the media.”
My religion is not just in Saudi Arabia as “Alice in Arabia” was implying. The fact that the show was targeting Saudi Arabia only shows how horribly ignorant the writer of the show is about Islam.
Islam is a religion that not only consists of more than 1.6 billion people, but it is also a religion that has spread globally, influencing numerous people in different regions.
A religion that has spread globally and has influenced so many people only makes how Muslims practice Islam throughout the world even more unique and beautiful.
Islam is not about women in veils who must be hidden from the outside world. That itself is a cultural practice dictated by the minds of people who deem it to be a religious ruling.
As a Muslim, I see Islam as my stability and my security in this world. It is my liberation in a world that is filled with so much negativity and ignorance.
It hurts to see my religion face so much mockery by people who only have hateful thoughts about Muslims.
There is no justification for such mockery, and although I am not shocked, I am truly troubled by what is now deemed to be acceptable.
So wake up, Muslims! We need to raise our heads and come out of hiding. We can no longer let our voices be drowned out by the fear being stereotyped.
It is time to put our fear and pride away and show people the true beauty of Islam. Not only will we eliminate these ignorant views, but we will also do ourselves a favor in bringing justice to our religion.