Islamic Human Rights Commission
4th June 2003
URGENT ALERT: Spooks – Suicide Bombers
IHRC is concerned that the BBC drama ‘Spooks’ to be aired Monday 9th June, at 9pm, will serve to reinforce damaging stereotypes about Muslims, especially post-9/11. IHRC believes this will encourage race hate attacks on Muslims.
The programme, to centre on (Muslim) suicide bombers recruited and trained in Birmingham (UK), is both irresponsible and religiously, and culturally insensitive.
This programme demeans Muslims and Islam. IHRC believes that the BBC disclaimer that this it is a fictional effort is not sufficient to redress the demonisation of Muslims by this storyline. The programme basis its focus on the city of Birmingham where its main central mosque was the recent target of a police raid. Birmingham is also home to one of Britain’s largest Muslim communities.
‘Spooks’ focuses on regurgitated stereotypes, showing an Imam (Islamic Cleric) at a mosque recruiting young Muslim men through the Qur\\\\\’an. Character(s) are repeatedly linked to Algeria, compounding the recent racist demonisation of Algerians in the media. (see IHRC briefing ‘Language, media and the public mind – A case study of reporting of the ‘ricin’ incident’ at http://server792.dnslive.net/~ihrc/show.php?id=612)
The programme further fails to show that Islam condemns the killing of innocents. Rather it insinuates the opposite through the use of indiscriminate quotes such as \\\\\\\”I will go straight to paradise if I kill just one infidel\\\\\\\”. It can only be inferred that the producers have attempted to draw an insidious link between Islam and terrorism for the sake of cheap entertainment.
Contrary to the assertions of the BBC, IHRC believes the latest episode is completely devoid of any factual content and neither addresses any contemporary social or political issues. IHRC believes that the latest Spooks episode is a case of fiction denying fact and reality. There is no evidence to show that Mosques are being used to recruit Muslims as suicide bombers.
If programmes such as Spooks are concerned with issues such as suicide bombers and terrorism, then surely they should explore the conditions which give rise to such phenomena.
We urge our volunteers to email and/or write (see below) to the BBC demanding that the forthcoming episode of Spooks is not broadcast this Monday.
firstname.lastname@example.org Director-General of BBC
email@example.com Executive producer for the BBC
firstname.lastname@example.org Controller of Editorial Policy for BBC
We recommend you mention the following points:
• Suicide bombings are a rare occurrence, despite the hyperbole and none as of yet have taken place in a western/British environment as the episode insinuates.
• This programme will give sucker to the far right and other Islamophobic movements which resort to both popular fictional and factually based depictions of Muslims.
• It may be the case that the BBC wants to address current affairs issues, however by focusing on suicide bombings in Britain and narrowing the focus on Muslims, Mosques and Imams plays into a highly emotive arena already fuelled with Islamophobic sentiment.
• This type of scenario cannot be justified irrespective of the current political climate. In fact there is far more reason not to air this dramatisation given the context and daily realities of Muslims and other marginalised minorities in Britain. Muslims are already suffering an increasing backlash as a result of demonisation in the wake of 9/11, the gulf war etc. Such programmes result in the further vilification of Muslims in the non-Muslim psyche which potentially leads to hostility and suspicion towards Muslims and violence at its worst.
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