Monday, 11 January 2016

Assalamu alaikum (Peace be upon you)

Assalamu alaikum (Peace be upon you) is a very common Islamic greeting. Across the UK it is said millions of times a day, children returning home from school; by husbands and wives coming home from work; by people meeting friends and acquaintances in the street.

It is ubiquitous.

But you will very rarely here it on TV drama containing Muslim characters, except in one specific set of circumstances - we'll come back to that in a moment.

So, anyway, BFTF was sitting idly at home next to Mrs BFTF, who was watching Silent Witness on BBC iPlayer ("Flight", Pt1, first aired 9pm 11 Jan 2016).

BFTF wasn't really paying attention until he heard the phrase "Assalamu alaikum" being spoken by one of the Muslim characters in a scene where someone had died.

"Assalamu alaikum"

BFTF: "How did that guy die?"

Mrs BFTF : "Stabbed"

BFTF : "Anything to do with terrorism?

Mrs BFTF :"No"

BFTF : "That's unusual"

BFTF then went back to scanning through Facebook on his phone until, literally WITHIN SIX MINUTES, he heard the gravelly voice of Detective Chief Inspector Michael Waite from the Counter Terrorism Unit appear on the detective show.
Det. Chief Insp. Waite arrives

Det Insp Waite was was soon launching into a monologue with all the usual catchphrases.

radicalised, Raqqa, Al-Britani, Jihadist, Falluja, Social media, recruiting sargent......

One rarely, if ever, hears "Assalamu alaikum" on Eastenders or other soaps - no matter how many times the Muslim characters meet each other - why does BFTF only hear it on dramas involvingterrorism, gang violence or wife beating?

The BBC is actively associating a phrase meaning "Peace be upon you" with terror and violence. They should be ashamed of themselves.

And it is BFTF's children who will pay the price by an increased liklihood of facing discrimination when trying to get a job.

How could BFTF had been so STUPID as to think that a programme would break these rules.

STUPID. STUPID. STUPID.

I guess nothing has changed since 2003 and 2004 and 2008

Complained to the BBC with these comments:

"This is a complaint regarding the fact Islamic phrases are only used by Muslim characters in negative contexts (terrorism, gang violence or wife beating). I was initially shocked to hear a Muslim character say "Assaalmu alaikum" at around 30mins into the programme without it being in the context of terrorism. I need not have worried, 6 minutes later Det Chief Insp Waite arrived to give the full spectrum of catchphrases "radicalised", "Raqqa", "Al-Britani", "Jihadist", "Falluja", "Social media", "recruiting sargent". Why don't I hear "Assalamu alaikum" on Eastenders or other soaps - why do I only hear it on crime dramas? Your behaviour is actively associating a phrase meaning "Peace be upon you" with terror and violence. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

Update Jan 25 2016
Received the following response (edited down to summarise) from the BBC. I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether it actually addresses the issue raised :

"We were contacted by a number of viewers who felt the terrorist storyline was inappropriate to show. To allow us to reply promptly, and use the licence fee efficiently we’re sending this response to everyone. We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address most of the points raised or at least add some context behind the story....Writer, Graham Mitchell said: "The threat of Islamist terrorism isn’t something that’s explored very often at present in UK popular fiction...How have we managed to alienate some of our young people to such an extent? And how much are the actions of our governments to blame for this alienation.”... "So that’s what my story tries to do - to try, without judgement, to understand what motivates our two fictional jihadist characters and to ask some questions.”...With all this in mind we didn’t feel these programmes would be outside of most viewers’ expectations for the series, but we appreciate that you felt differently and your feedback has been circulated to the programme makers."

*******************************************

"Murdered by my Father" BBC3 Tue 29 March 6pm
The title tells you all you need to know about the storyline of this drama. As the context is negative, it is not a surprise to find that, 13m 35seconds into the 75min programme, we find the (soon to be murderous) father greeting a neighbour with a friendly "Assalamu alaikum" - a greeting that, in real life, Muslims use all the time, but on TV only use when they are bad people or in the context of a negative storyline...

"Assalamu Alaikum"

Complained to the BBC again...

"This is a complaint regarding the fact Islamic phrases are only used by Muslim characters in negative storylines such terrorism, gang violence, wife beating or, in this case, honour killing. At 13m35sec seconds the soon-to-be-murderous father greets a neighbour with "Assalamu alaikum" (Peace be upon you). This is a greeting that, in real life, Muslims use all the time, but on BBC Drama only use when they are bad people or in the context of a negative storyline. Essentially the BBC is associating "Assalamu alaikum" with criminal behaviour. I do not know whether the BBC is doing this knowingly or unknowlingly but it is very disturbing and now what I expect from a national broadcaster."
Update 3rd May
Recently received this response from the BBC Complaints Dept :
"As you acknowledge “as-salaamu alaikum” is a commonly heard greeting. It follows then that it would be heard by ‘bad’ characters as well as ‘good’. We’re sorry, however, that you feel it’s only ever used by ‘bad’ characters. But, given that it is a greeting that’s used all the time, we wouldn’t agree; it’s rather that drama, by its nature, might include more ‘bad’ characters or have a particular focus on them and bad events since they tend to drive many dramatic storylines. ‘EastEnders’, for example, is just one obvious example where ‘good’ Muslim characters can be regularly heard using the greeting. Thank you again for your feedback. Please know complaints are sent to senior management and programme makers every morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC ensuring that complaints are seen quickly by the right people."

BFTF is not at all sure that Eastenders is "...one obvious example where ‘good’ Muslim characters can be regularly heard using the greeting.""

More on this in due course.

No comments:

Post a Comment