Commentary – the infamous Housewives of ISIS

SHAFAQNA – Although I initially chose to ignore this little piece of satire the BBC infamously labelled: “The Housewives of ISIS” in reference to society’s craze for reality TV and our mainstreamed form of voyeurism, it has become too much of an elephant in the room for anyone to really ignore.

Since it is a sensitive subject for so many – Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I will kindly ask readers to bear with me before screaming down at their computer screen … I have a feeling not all of you will like what I have to say.

By the way that’s absolutely fine! We might want to remember that freedom of expression encompasses the right for people to disagree, change their minds, and even the right to stand corrected.

Like anyone else I do make mistakes, and my opinions are not set in stone. Once upon a time I was fooled into believing that the rise of political Sunni Islam in Egypt might open the way to pluralism … Oh boy was I wrong. Not only was I wrong, I would say I was so far off I’m surprised I wasn’t hit by a truck.

Anyway … my point is: anyone fool has opinions, it takes wisdom to learn from our mistakes, and humility to consider others’ views – even if for a second.

I will here borrow from MintPress News report to frame the controversy and how it came about: “A comedy sketch putting the real victims of terrorism in the framework of the “Real Housewives” reality TV series has divided social media users and media analysts alike.

Produced by the new BBC sketch comedy show “Revolting,” the short video appears as a trailer for a fictional TV program, “The Real Housewives Of ISIS.” The video has been viewed over 26 million times since it was posted on the BBC Two’s Facebook page on Jan. 3.”

The report further reads: “Similar to shows like “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta,” the sketch features a group of women gossiping and worrying about their fashion choices. Rather than high-end designer bags and alcohol-fueled drama, these “housewives” wear burkas and tell jokes about beheadings and slavery. The characters describe themselves as young British or Western women lured into marriage by Daesh (as Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known in the West as ISIS or ISIL).”

I will not upload the video here so feel free to follow MintPress News link.

I have to admit, the video made me laugh … Why didn’t I take offense? Quite simply because I do not feel the sketch offers a representation of Islamic values, its people, or even women in general.

What the sketch portrays is the dogmatic devolution which is Wahhabism, that western capitals insist on calling Islam. Bite me, but I don’t see Islam in Wahhabism – I see its negation.

I see in Wahhabism, Takfirism, Salafism, and whatever other “ism” radicals want to hide behind, yet another extreme form of neo-liberalism – only weaved around an ideology that while claiming itself religious, functions and rest on a secularist mindset.

Everything you see in the sketch: from the comatose cognitive dissonance those women demonstrate, to their objectification and portrayal of what can only be an extreme form of the Stockholm syndrome, are actually a fair representation of the truth.

Wahhabism is all those things and more.

Wahhabism calls for the enslavement of women, their objectification through a process of dehumanization and exclusion. Wahhabism is humanity’s worst enemy. Wahhabism is where individuality comes to die, and where pluralism is sacrificed to the pyres of War.

A vengeful deity risen from the desert of Nejd (a region in Saudi Arabia), Wahhabism sits in rejection of God, so that it could claim divinity for itself. And no I am not being over-dramatic.

In the same manner liberalism would like all faiths to be disappeared to hedonism, Wahhabism wants to pervert Islam and contort it into a violent political construct emptied of all mercy and compassion.

So no, the Housewives of ISIS do not really bother me per se.

I however cringe at the idea that most people will understand it as yet another excuse to sneer at Islam and denigrate Muslims. I recoil at the idea that Muslims will miss the point … again, and see in the sketch a critic of their belief system.

If you somehow find yourself in the satire you need to seriously reassess your values.

Let’s remember just to which extent Islam reveres women. Yes I said revered!! Islam came to assert, affirm, and enshrine women’s rights to the point where respecting such rights are a religious duty.

It is Muslims who have chosen to ignore such injunctions through a warped interpretation of the Scriptures. Roll your eyes all you want but I will personally debate you until you are blue in the face on that point!

Now, here is where I think this sketch is actually funny – the BBC failed to miss that its lets-make-fun-of-those-stupid-Muslims narrative actually speaks more about British society than it does Muslims.

Let me ask you this: Who helped empowered Wahhabism in the 18th century so that it could stand against the then-Ottoman Empire and thus help manifest the Crown’s geopolitical ambitions?

Who then went about funding and propping the House of Saud so that the Islamic World would sit in disunity, and occupation?

Who then exploited Terror as a weapon of mass destabilisation so that the Middle East would explode along ethnic and sectarian lines?

So as much as the BBC would like you to believe it is denouncing Terror through the power of satire, the joke is really on the Establishment.

One more thing: don’t come back at me with the usual: She’s a Shia Muslim, ergo she can’t possibly comment on Islam … I can and I will.

Let me share with you the words of Lady Zaynab at Yazid’s Court … remember him? Wahhabist Saudi Arabia praises him for his leadership. He, whose hands drip still with the blood of Imam Hussain!

“O Yazid, if you consider our defeat as your achievement then you will have to pay its price. Allah commits not injustice to His servants. Our reliance is on Allah. He alone is our Relief and place of Protection, and in Him alone do we repose our hope. You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honoured us with revelation, the Book and Prophethood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you effect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonour that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the oppressors and the unjust.”

‘Nough said!

By Catherine Shakdam – Director of Programs for the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies

This article appeared first in the Huffington Post




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