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‘What Should I Wear For The Beheading?’ BBC’s ISIS Satire Divides Audiences


A new BBC show titled Real Housewives has become controversial for satirising women who travel to Syria to become Islamic state fighters. While some viewers seem to be in awe of the series, many condemned the show for the caricature. Hijabi women are shown wondering what to wear at a beheading and comparing notes on how good they look in a suicide vest.

The comedy sketch has been accused for making “Hijabis feel more isolated and targeted by Islamophobes.” However, according to a Guardian report, British comedians feel there is an overgrowing culture of offence that threatens to stifle a long tradition of British satire. which according to them can even help fight terrorism. Comedian and writer Shazia Mirza said, “There’s a long history of people from different religions mocking themselves – Christians, Jews, Catholics – why can’t Muslims make jokes about themselves?”

The show is a parody of the 2006 popular TV franchise The Real Housewives of Orange County. There are various spin-offs of the show aired around the world. 

The first episode of the series, titled Revolt, was aired on Tuesday. In one scene, the wife of an ISIS militant says, “It’s only three days to the beheading and I’ve got no idea what to wear.” Some viewers objected to such scenes as attempting to dilute the seriousness of the ongoing refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civilian war. 

The women in the show are clad in hijabs and speak with English with a British accent. These women compare their suicide vests as they post pictures on social media platforms. 

Another scene portrays a woman chained to the kitchen. She says, “Ali’s brought me a new chain which is eight foot long so I can almost get outside, which is great.”

The show has sparked debate on social media about whether a satire should be made at all on something as deadly as the Islamic State. 

Others felt it was just fine to sit back and laugh. 

The show has been scripted by directors Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein. The duo have strongly defended their series saying it was targeting the online grooming that had enticed thousands to join the ISIS. 

“It is important not to pull your punches in satire,” Prowse said in a statement. “You have to be fearless or it undermines your credibility. You can’t go after [former Prime Minister] David Cameron for five years like we did and not go after ISIS,” referring to another acronym for the Islamic State.

A BBC spokeswoman said, “This show is satire, and the BBC has a rich history of satire.” 

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