Who saw last night’s Channel 4’s ‘My Week as a Muslim’? I have to say I found it quite disturbing and not because it featured a racist but because of the way the programme portrayed the racist. Self confessed Islamophobe and NHS Healthcare Assistant, Katie Freeman traded in her life for a week to spend it with Saima Alvi a teacher and a Muslim. Katie was very open about her racist views considering all Muslims to be terrorists even telling her own 16 year old daughter that “ladies in burkas have suicide belts around them”. Not even the word ‘probably’ in there.
Firstly it was totally inappropriate that Channel 4 programme ‘brown faced’ Katie. Brownfacing or blackfacing is an offensive outdated racist stereotype which I really thought we were past in our mainstream media. And what was with the prosthetic big nose? That’s how Jews were portrayed in Nazi propaganda for goodness sake!
Here I interchange the terms ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobe’. Islam is not a race but Islamophobia does have racist connotations. In short an ignorance and expectation from the control race that lower races should want to convert and aspire to be like that control race and a frustration when they don’t want to. This is increasingly being termed anti-Muslim racism.
The programme continuously seemed to overlook Katie’s racist views instead choosing to portray her as some kind of odd feminist, adamant that Muslim women are all oppressed. As a viewer we should empathise with Katie because her heart was in the right place! Now if Katie had a truly feminist angle, I would have been the first to have listened but it consisted of proudly telling Saima’s daughters who were aged between 16 and 21 years old, how she liked getting drunk and had 20 to 30 boyfriends by the time she was their age. No Katie, the purpose of young girls and women on this earth is not to attract as many men as possible whilst drunk.
Confusingly she continued to educate Saima and the Muslim shop assistant in feminism saying “It’s all about women being strong” when criticising the way Muslim women dress but then actions a *thumbs up* at the thought of getting wolf whistles from men on the street, saying she would feel “all ooh” whilst physically jigging and giggling. This broadcast on the week the hashtag #metoo flooded social media too. Give that woman a Noble Peace Prize. Nope sorry Katie not buying your faux feminism bullshit, you’re still just a racist.
But who else lolled and wanted to high five Saima fitting a niqab on Katie saying; “You look like Mary mother of Jesus!” Katie was gobsmaked at this comment. This seemingly throwaway comment was very poignant. So many use the hijab, niqab or burka as a reason to make fun or condemn Muslims. Yet every religion sees women wearing head coverings be they; Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian. Yes even Christianity that very British value *cough* Middle eastern religion that racists want for our country? And I’d bet every penny in my dusty bank account that these defenders of Christianity under the guise of bigotted ‘British values’ have never seen the inside of a church past the last marriage or funeral they attended.
You may consider me naive and missing the point of the programme and that it’s good Katie came across as a bigotted fool? Well no because ultimately the moral of the story was this 43 year old poor misguided woman realised the errors of her ways and decided Muslims are “just normal people.. there is nothing sinister about them I even had a laugh and a joke with them!” Thus absolving herself and kindly humanising Muslims in one efficient swoop. Hurrah! Now that’s white privilege right there!
Her pre brownface/ big nosed racism received no repercussions or condemnation, just smiles and what she called ‘Asian food’. Reminiscent of the Robertsons Gollywog and black faced minstrels who just smiled and danced for the white master. I didn’t expect or want her to be attacked but addressed and questioned, yes. But this never happened instead putting on a hijab seemed to automatically exonerated brave Katie of her wrongs.
‘My Week as a Muslim’ was bigger than Katie Freeman. We need to ask as a society why it isn’t enough to have Muslim people telling their own story as innocent people. Is it because the UK is covertly racist? Why does it take the great white racist woman to humanise and redeem the brown innocent Muslim woman like the hand of god? Where have we seen that before? I raise you slavery, the empire and the invasion of first peoples of the Americas and Australasia where ‘less than’ people were expected to convert and aspire to the master race through beatings and be goddamn grateful for it. And I’m afraid Channel 4 you only advocated this by sending a racist white woman in brownface and a big nose to ‘humanise’ Muslims, resulting in you seeming kinda racist too.
You can watch the full Channel 4 episode My Week as a Muslim on catch up here