Perpetually outraged CAIR goes after ABC-TV for new drama called ‘Alice of Arabia,’ whining about its horrifying, inappropriate stereotypes of Muslims

abcfamilyThe cable and satellite television channel ABC Family has added a drama pilot called ‘Alice in Arabia’ to its slate for this season, which many online are calling “bigoted, racist, and Islamophobic.” Alice in Arabia tells the story of an American teenager who is kidnapped by her extended family in Saudi Arabia and is forced to survive in a misogynistic foreign land as she tries to escape.

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The president of ABC Family Tom Ascheim issued a statement that said the channel is known for “diverse stories that challenge as well as entertain” viewers, but many say the show perpetuates negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims.

VARIETY  In a letter sent to ABC Family president Tom Ascheim Tuesday, CAIR explained,

“As the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, we are concerned about the negative impact this program could have on the lives of ordinary Arab-American and American Muslims.”

“We are concerned that, given media references to the main character ‘surviving life behind the veil,’ the pilot and any resulting series may engage in stereotyping that can lead to things like bullying of Muslim students,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “We urge ABC Family Channel to meet with representatives of the Muslim and Arab-American communities to discuss this important issue.”

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This is not the first time that Washington-based CAIR has spoken out. CAIR previously challenged actual and potential anti-Muslim stereotypes in “Executive Decision,” “24,” “The Siege,” “True Lies,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Obsession,” “The Third Jihad,” “Jihad in America” and “The Sum of All Fears.” The Muslim Brotherhood front group has also acted as a consultant on films including DreamWorks Animation’s “The Prince of Egypt.”

In response to CAIR’s reaction, an ABC Family spokesperson said Wednesday, “We hope people will wait to judge this show on its actual merits once it is filmed. The writer is an incredible storyteller and we expect ‘Alice’ to be a nuanced and character driven show.”

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THE SHOW perpetuates racism, even in its paragraph-long description. If there are going to be stories about Muslim women on television, which there should be, why do they have to be framed in a context of a white women using an Islamic backdrop to discover herself and that she might have false, western notions of what the Middle East is?  “Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.” Life behind the veil: a crass and western Islamophobic judgment of the way that other cultures operate.

ALREADY, from just the synopsis, we can see the show will perpetuate common Islamophobic stereotypes including Islamic men as villains and Islamic women as needing to be rescued. It also continues the notion that it takes the introduction of an American character to humanize the “surprisingly diverse” populations of the Middle East.

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It Could Be Based Loosely on the Story of Nazia Quazi: In November 2007, a 24-year-old a dual citizen of Canada and India went to visit her father living in Saudi Arabia. Nazia Quazi was then not allowed to return home to Canada because her father hid her passport and, under Saudi law, was able to legally forbid her from leaving. She was stuck there for three years, unable to circumvent Saudi laws even after her fiance contacted the Canadian government and NGOs like Human Rights Watch. After increased international attention, Quazi was finally able to go to Dubai to marry her fiance.

The outrage for the already problematic show, even though it’s not yet on the air, is currently mostly on Twitter, where the hashtag #AliceInArabia is trending. Tweets range from shock to anger to pure exhaustion, the gamut of reactions threaded with disbelief.

PREDICTION: ABC caves to Muslim whining in 5 – 4 – 3 -2 –

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Only one Tweet on this subject by a Muslim was intelligent. Tarek Fatah from Canada who is usually spot on says:

No @IngridMattson, #AliceInArabia is NOT racist. It is what u & your ‘Muslim Victimhood’ adicts do that is hurting us Muslims.

My goal w/ HT is to help @ABCFamily see how the stated premise of show is offensive & in era of anti-muslim sentiment, scary

: Teaching Islamophobia to a whole new generation. Thank you, @ABCFamily!

In Hollywood, Arab men R terrorists played by white dudes w/ 5 o’clock shadows; Arab women need saving from barbaric culture

Last year, I was interviewed to join writing staff about show set in “Mid East.” All the writers were White, non Muslim men.

Aw, great–another show telling you how evil ‘Arabians’ kidnap/enslave/kill unsuspecting Americans first chance they get

perpetuates not only the oppressed Muslim women stereotypes but insists we need white saviors, as always.

@Faineemae From freedom to oppression. Kids, this is why you shouldn’t run from your parents-the Arabs might catch you!

Shows like this revive stereotypes to remind people of the “us and them” mentality that is so prevalent in the United States

how about stop telling stories that center privileged whites in spaces that are prominently occupied by POC/marginalized ppl

“While surviving life behind a veil” Uhh?? I’m “surviving” life “behind” a veil. But i happen to embrace it&choose to do so.

They couldn’t unveil Muslim women in life so now they have a show about a white girl who infiltrates the oppressive veil

Images of the Islamic veil has served as a symbol of oppression in the West, only perpetuates the notion & erases choice.

how about stop telling stories that center privileged whites in spaces that are prominently occupied by POC/marginalized ppl

also sick and tired of the privileged “empathy” of white women who look down on women who wear head scarves/hijabs etc.

Its like “Disney’s Aladdin” meets “Homeland”, both being accurate depictions of the Arab world

We are not a learning tool for this fictional Alice: “Oh, they aren’t oppressed savages after all!”

If you have to ask what’s wrong with then you are part of the problem.

writers will surely be defensive, claiming they have “good Arabs” on the show. Too bad your show’s built on a bigoted premise

And yet another case of the media educating the American public about a “foreign culture” through a white washed lense

plot looks to enact western fantasies abt ME; compare w/The Sheik; racist,sexist, Otherness . . . Orientalism .

Automatic consideration of a military professional as an expert on occupied/surveilled people is inherently oppressive

lol of course a white lady who worked for the US government thinks she has the authority to write about Arabs

Jerry’s girlfriend keeps denying she supported coup in Egypt. Kramer kicked out of mosque 4 wearing shorts

Is there going to be a cross over between That’s So Raven and where Raven appears in zany burka for escape antics?

clearly @ABCFamily needs help with “innovative & authentic” if they think is – some suggestions “Hagrid’s Hairy Harem”

I ask if she studied Arabic, to “support NSA mission in the Middle East” And she confirmed that.

.@BrookeEikmeier problem isn’t w/script specifics but the entire premise of the show that makes us Muslim women into perpetual victims.

when you objectify and dehumanize, Muslim woman. You make it easier to commit violence against them.

.@BrookeEikmeier Challenging racist tropes isn’t done by building on them further. The criticism is to show you how these images affect us.