Channel 4 has been accused of ‘pandering to racial stereotypes’ after painting a woman brown as part of a new show about Muslims in the UK.
Katie Freeman was ‘made-up’ up as a typical British-Pakistani Muslim for new show My Week as a Muslim.
In the trailer she can be seen wearing a hijab and prosthetics designed to give her a bigger nose.
Freeman reveals before the makeover how she ‘wouldn’t want to sit next to’ a Muslim for fear of them ‘blowing something up.’
Tell Mama, an organisation who support victims of anti-Muslim hate, are not happy with the programme, saying it ‘crosses the line’.
Founder Fiyaz Mughal told The Independent:
The most offensive bit is the gross exaggeration of features of the face and that blurs the line, pandering to stereotypes of race and religion actually.
They did not have to do the ‘blacking up’. You could have taken somebody who is willing to talk to Muslims but in that journey experienced what Muslims experience by shadowing, using a secret camera, listening to what happens around women’s role in Islam, this could have been done without pandering to some quite silly 1920s stereotypes.
Mughal conceded the premise of the show came ‘from a positive place’ but was ultimately ‘offensive’ in practice, adding:
You can still make it really interesting for the public, you don’t have to end up doing something quite covert and unsettling and racial that has crossed the line.
Katie has since said the racist abuse she received while filming the show almost made her pull out altogether.
It makes me ashamed to live here. I was raging and fuming inside. But I also felt vulnerable.
What harm was I doing?
Executive producer Fozia Khan said:
The programme allowed Katie to meaningfully walk in the shoes of someone from a different background and to experience what it is like to be part of the British Pakistani Muslim community rather than just observe it as an outsider.
My Week as a Muslim airs October 23 on Channel 4.