Channel 4’s ‘brownface’ documentary is no way to portray Muslims

Katie Freeman is being given a prosthetic nose. It is larger, thicker and wider than her existing nose. Next come a selection of teeth covers – all of which appear slightly yellower and more crooked than her existing teeth – and brown contact lenses. Then the piece de resistance: her white skin is covered up with a dark layer of makeup.

This is not a tasteless Halloween costume. It is a scene from Monday’s Channel 4 show My Week As a Muslim, where a white woman is “transformed to look like she’s of Pakistani origin”. The idea is for Freeman, a 44-year-old British healthcare assistant who genuinely wonders whether every woman in a burqa might be covering up a suicide belt, to spend a week undercover in Manchester’s Muslim community.

The problem with the show is not Freeman’s desire to learn more about Muslims, but the execution.

The concept is a worthy one. Islamophobia is on the rise, with anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester soaring by 500% after the suicide bombing in May (which took place during Freeman’s week as a Muslim); while just 20% of working-age Muslims are in full-time employment in the UK, compared with 35% for the overall population, with discrimination seen as a major factor.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 431 votes] “with anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester soaring by 500% after the suicide bombing in May (which took place during Freeman’s week as a Muslim);”

Although if you look at the actual figures it is still only 224 reports – and there’s no indication of what exactly these attacks are – physical? verbal? Twitteral?

Still, at least that’s the main issue, not all those children killed….

[2ND 353] I imagine there has been a more than 500% increase in children murder at gigs in Manchester.

[3RD 347] “with anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester soaring by 500% after the suicide bombing in May”

What exactly were these attacks? Did they equate to detonating a nail bomb in a stadium packed with women and children?

[4TH 339] Many years ago when I was a teenager the muslim families on our street blended in and did not wear clothing that identified them as muslims. Why did the practise of wearing the hijab, niqab and the big beards develop and spread so prolifically about 15 years ago? People I didn’t even know were muslims were all of a sudden identifying their belief system to the rest of the population.

[5TH 317] So tired of hearing Islam described in race terms.

The journalist also says she once donned a niqab, you know, that massive piece of cloth that separates you from the world around you… and was then ignored. Go figure! [Guardian Cif] Read more

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