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Opinion: Racist ABC Family show had no place being considered for production

March 23, 2014

seghiri.1@osu.edu
Alya Kazak, 21, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said her decision to wear a hijab, a scarf that identifies her as Muslim, is ‘the most positive decision I have made.’ Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Alya Kazak, 21, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said her decision to wear the hijab, a scarf that identifies her as Muslim, is ‘the most positive decision I have made.’
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

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.


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Comments (6)

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  1. German says:

    Well, what do you expect. The majority – or at least the louder part – of Muslims have been consistently cheering for NATO terrorist extremists in Libya and Syria who engage in sexual Jihad, eating hearts, stoning women and whatnot, and those Muslims who fight them in the battlefield to defend their land from local and foreign terrorism and from the NATO/Al Qaeda type are being widely characterized as “kafir” or “enemies of the Muslims”. The same majority of Muslims gladly follows the narratives of the Saudis, Qataris and Erdogan/Gulen, and never have they risen – even vocally – against these dictators/charlatans to take back the roots of their own religious schools. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t fail to fight what is rotten in the Muslim community – or worse, cheer for it -, and then claim that the problem are unfair Western representations or that you haven’t got loud enough to impose your own views on Westerners. Teach by example, not by lobbying. Do some Jihad on your own community and purge it from the rotten rather than being silent or cooperating with it. You yourselves at Ohio State University Muslim Student Association had a week of “solidarity” with the extremist terrorists of Syria. Did you speak against it or rather organized it? Then don’t cry foul when you are supposedly “misrepresented”. You are the one who is misrepresenting Muslims and cheering for what is rotten in the community.

  2. BuckGrad68 says:

    Any show or medium that educates the public on the fact that all Muslims are a threat to humanity is good. The misnomer is that we call the ones who are caught perpetrating terrorist acts Muslim “extremists”. The truth is that they are all extremists and follow a religious doctrine that teaches them to kill all non-Muslims. That religion must be wiped from the face of the earth!

  3. anon says:

    This is a beautiful article. @BuckGrad88– are you really going to claim that we should slaughter all Muslims because you misinterpret as a religion that preaches genocide? Sounds pretty hypocritical.
    Islam is derived from the Arabic word for peace. Islam is the world’s largest religion and most Muslims are peaceful people. The comments thus far on this article further demonstrate the need for Americans to become educated and informed on what this religion is. And no, I am not Muslim. Just human.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Maybe you shouldn’t fly planes into buildings. And then want to build a mosque right next to ground zero. Then you wouldn’t have this problem.

  5. Ned says:

    It’s a farce trying to reclaim the hijab. It’s integral to misogynistic culture. It’s like reclaiming the swastika for good cause; no matter what you say, unless you change the entire conversation, you’re going to be misinterpreted everywhere. Not to mention that religion is inherently misogynistic, so you’re more mistaken pairing your argument with your religion.

  6. Arafat says:

    Anon-

    Islam does NOT mean peace it means submission.

    It means submission of the individual to Allah and Allah’s laws. This is one of the reasons, of course, wherever we find Islam we find the individual’s freedoms subsumed by the Islamic cult of repression and suffocation.

    This is why in Muslim nations there are no individual rights, no religious rights (other than strict adherence to Islam, and why the press is also a tool of the Islamic precepts.

    So stop lying to us about Islam meaning peace. We are not so dumb as to disbelieve our eyes versus your disingenuous words.

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