Channel 4 documentary ‘My Week as a Muslim’ classed as racist

Channel 4 will air a documentary on October 23 in which a white woman is given the appearance of a Pakistani Muslim in order to experience public attitudes and Islamophobia. However, the Muslim Council of Britain believes it has caused “deep offence,” reported the Guardian.

The makeup artists darkened Katie Freeman’s skin and gave her a prosthetic nose. She was also dressed in traditional Muslim clothing, including a hijab. Freeman, 44, who lives in a predominantly white area in north-west England took these steps to be “fully immersed into a Pakistani Muslim family living just a few miles away”.

A spokesperson for the MCB said: “The use of brown-face and black-face has a long racist history and it is not surprising that it has caused deep offence amongst some communities. Had we been consulted, we would not have advised this approach.”

He continued, “We do, however, laud the apparent goals of the documentary – to better understand the reality of Islamophobia, which has become socially accepted across broader society.”



In a press release announcing the documentary, Channel 4 stated it was “an immersive programme that will explore what it’s like to be a Muslim in Britain today and challenge some of the assumptions and prejudices that different communities in the UK have about each other.”

The programme, made by The Garden Productions, used “radical methods … to offer insight into the everyday lives of people from two separate cultures”.

The documentary was filmed immediately after the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena, in which 22 people were killed and 250 injured. Home Office figures released this week showed a rise in hate crime in the aftermath of terror attacks in Manchester and London this year.

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After news breaks of the Manchester bombing, Freeman told her host, Saima Alvi: “It’s this community that has bred this terrorist.” Later, speaking to the camera, Alvi says: “It’s very humiliating that I am pigeonholed, or put in the same box as a terrorist.”

Freeman initially says of Muslims: “You see them and think they’re going to blow something up.” Driving through a Muslim neighbourhood, she says: “You wouldn’t even think this was England.”



But, dressed as a Muslim woman, Freeman experiences hostility from her own neighbours. Afterwards, she says: “It makes me ashamed to live here. I was raging and fuming inside. But I also felt vulnerable. What harm was I doing?”

Alvi, 49, says Freeman’s experience is “what I face every day. This is me for life.”

After a trailer for the programme was aired this week, there was criticism on social media.

A woman called Firdos wrote: “You continue to hijack our stories & distort them. We are not your Halloween costumes. Stop using us, we are not a cultural commodity.”

Ayesha tweeted: “I’m fuming. I just heard about the upcoming @Channel4 programme My Week as a Muslim. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Shelina Janmohamed, the author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World, told the Guardian: “Increasing understanding of Muslims at a time when divisions and hatred are rising – some of which is violent – is more vital than ever.

“It’s a shame if efforts are derailed by basic errors such as ‘brownfacing’ which reinforce rather than challenge such prejudice. I hope the programme lets the experiences of Muslims shine through rather than being a form of television tourism.”

Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim abuse and attacks, said the programme was “absolutely shocking” and a “complete catastrophe”.

“Just think for one second if that was done against the Jewish community. There would be legitimate accusations of antisemitism, which would be correct and clear. So why is this OK for the Muslim community, in the desire to reach what I think is a laudable objective?” he said.

“They could have simply taken a secret camera and got Muslim women to record things that happen to them every day. But they tried to maximise their audience by putting a twist on it, a twist that has badly backfired.”

Fozia Khan, the documentary’s executive producer, 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 observe it as an outsider.”

Khan said the idea for the film came after the EU referendum and the rise in Islamophobia that followed. “We saw divided communities, people living side by side but not mixing. We wanted to do something bold, a kind of social experiment: to take someone with no exposure to the Muslim community and give her a really authentic experience. The transformation in her appearance was important for that.”

He continued, “If we’d done it for entertainment purposes, I can see why it would be offensive. But its purpose and intention needs to be understood. I feel really proud of it and I hope that when people see it, they will understand why we did it.”

Before taking part in the programme, Freeman had never engaged with any Muslims and admitted to holding stereotypical views.

Freeman and Alvi were both worried about how they would appear. “I had concerns about how I would be framed. I’m not racist. Although, looking back I am surprised at some of my early opinions,” Freeman told the Telegraph.

“People were negative about the idea,” said Alvi. “But there are lots of people out there who just haven’t had the chance to engage with Muslims.”

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Tehmina Janjua reiterates call for Afghan govt, Taliban talks for peace

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has reiterated Pakistan’s call for making serious efforts for negociated settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban for achieving lasting peace in the war-torn country.

She remarked while participating in the meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Contact Group on Afghanistan held at the deputy foreign minister-level in Moscow on Wednesday, a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov chaired the meeting while deputy foreign ministers of Afghanistan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and representatives of SCO and its relevant bodies attended the meeting.

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Addressing the meeting, Janjua underlined challenges faced by Afghanistan including deteriorating security situation marked by increasing ungoverned spaces being used to provide sanctuary to the terrorist groups like Da’esh, al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamtul Ahrar (JuA) and increasing drug production which threatened Afghanistan’s neighbours.

She stressed the need for making serious efforts for negotiated settlement between Afghan government and the Taliban for achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The foreign secretary also emphasised the importance of early return of Afghan refugees and combating drug production and human trafficking which continued to affect stability of Afghanistan and the region.

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The members of SCO Contact Group exchanged views on ways and means to support peace and stability in Afghanistan through facilitating Afghan-led peace process, assisting the Afghan government in dealing with security and counter-terrorism challenges and promoting regional economic integration and connectivity.

They unanimously supported measures for strengthening interaction between Afghanistan and the SCO countries.

The member countries welcomed Chinese proposal for hosting the next meeting of the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan in Beijing in early 2018.

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Tony Blair: get tough on immigration to stop Brexit

Former PM backs report calling for tighter controls and renegotiation of free movement rules with EU

Tony Blair has called for tough new immigration rules which would allow Britain to exercise more control over who comes into the country without leaving the EU.

The former prime minister said the open borders he presided over were no longer appropriate and put his name to a report calling for tighter domestic controls and the negotiation of modified free movement rules with the EU.

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Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid celebrate Eidul Azha with loved ones

Former One Direction star Zayn Malik and girlfriend Gigi Hadid were joined by their mothers on Friday to celebrate Eid ul Adha. The supermodel’s mother Yolanda Hadid, took to Instagram to share a ‘family’ photo.

❤️Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating…….

A post shared by YOLANDA (@yolanda.hadid) on

Zayn can be seen beaming with joy alongside some of the most important women in his life including his mother Patricia (Trisha) Malik, who also wished everyone a happy Eid on Instagram.

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In an interview with Evening Standard, Zayn has opened up about being a son of a British Pakistani man, Yaser Malik and growing up within the Islamic faith.

The Pillowtalk singer has always been expressive about his family’s background and the pride he feels for his Islamic upbringing.

“I’m not currently practicing but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture,” shared Zayn.

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“I take a great sense of pride and responsibility in knowing that I am the first of my kind, from my background,” he told the outlet. “I’m not currently practicing but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture. But I’m just me. I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background,” he added.

Gigi Hadid wants people to see the “human” in her
Gigi’s father Mohamed Hadid, who born in Palestine,  migrated to the United States with his parents when he was a 14. Gigi has been relatively private regarding her father and his background as a Palestinian Muslim. However, she has previously shared a picture showing off her Arab roots on Twitter to celebrate Eid ul Fitr.

The photo shows the Victoria’s Secret model, as a child, surrounded by her family – clad in traditional clothing. Her sister Bella, has openly expressed pride in growing up as a Muslim.



Speaking of her father, the younger Hadid sister told Porter magazine that “He was always religious, and he always prayed with us.” She added, “I am proud to be a Muslim.”

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Facebook finally lets users capture 360-degree photos and videos through its app

Facebook isn’t exactly the go to place for capturing photos but the social media site is credited with having uploaded over 70 million 360-degree photos.

None of these, however, were taken using Facebook’s built-in camera as the site app never gave the option to capture a panoramic image.

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It is also probably why Facebook chose to acquire Instagram, but with its latest updates, the social media giant has finally allowed the option to shoot 360-degree photos and videos from its built-in app and upload instantly to user timelines or albums.

Previously, to capture such an image, users had to open their phone camera app and shoot the image in panorama mode after which they had to separately upload it to Facebook, which Facebook only allowed last year.

That’s not exactly the most gruesome of tasks but it certainly isn’t what you would associate with an otherwise effective Facebook network.

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The new feature also allows you to add a 360-photo as your Cover Photo. Simply open the Facebook app and click ‘360 Photo’ from the top of your News Feed.

Press the blue button, take your panoramic image and simply share to wherever you prefer to share.


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No return to Irish border posts, UK insists in Brexit plan

Policy paper says government hopes to agree upfront with EU there will be no need for physical infrastructure at border

The UK government will insist there must be “no return to the hard borders of the past” as it publishes its proposals for ensuring goods and people can continue to travel freely between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit.

In the latest of a series of papers covering different aspects of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, David Davis’s Brexit department will say it hopes to agree upfront with the EU that there will be no need for “physical infrastructure” such as new border posts.

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Steve Bell on the UK’s Brexit negotiations – cartoon

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Opposition members lambast Karachi mayor for ‘poor’ performance

KARACHI: Opposition members in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) City Council decried Mayor Wasim Akhtar’s performance in the metropolis, claiming that their development schemes have not yet been included in the annual development programme.

They have warned of besieging the mayor’s office if the funds were not released in their constituencies. “Around Rs13 billion was allocated for development schemes in the last budget but not a single penny has been given to 105 opposition members,” Junaid Makati, the parliamentary leader of Jamaat-e-Islami in the City Council, told The Express Tribune.

Makati has won the local government election from union council-10 (UC) Dhoraji and has submitted more than 10 development schemes pertaining to cleanliness of drains, construction of streets and pavements. However, he claims that not a single penny has been released to him.

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“KMC not only generates money from its own sources but also gets funds from the Sindh government.  However, we do not see any development in the city on the part of KMC,” he said, adding that some of the funds are spent in Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM) areas but most of the funds are misappropriated.  “One can see the development work on Sharae Faisal, Tariq Road and University Road and the underpasses being built in Karachi by the Sindh government, while the mayor has nothing to show,” Makati said.

In the KMC council, which comprises 307 members, MQM – Pakistan has more than 200 members. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has 42 members, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) 27, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) 14, Jamaat-e-Islami 10, Awami National Party (ANP) two and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) has three members, while the rest are independent groups.

PTI’s Sajjad Ali, who has been elected as chairman of UC-44 Bhutta Village Keamari, was of the view that not a single block or brick has been laid down in his constituency. “In this area, our party has won three UCs but the mayor does not bother to support us by releasing funds,” he claimed, adding that he, along with other colleagues from his party, has given various schemes but all in vain.

“We are thinking of besieging the mayor’s office. In this connection a meeting of the joint opposition parties will be convened soon to decide the date,” he said, adding that the KMC has increased the rate of different taxes it collects from the city but it does not utilise the development funds. “The Sindh government releases Rs0.2 million to each UC, which is only spent on salaries of employees. We receive meager amount from birth and death certificates, which is not sufficient to initiate development in the area,” he added.

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PPP’s Karamullah Waqasi said the Sindh government releases the funds on time but it is the mayor’s incompetency to initiate schemes that is the problem. “Every other day the MQM-Pakistan members make hue and cry in Sindh Assembly for development funds, but its own mayor is victimising opponents by not initiating any development work in their areas,” he said. “People have given votes to the opposition members who equally deserve funds, but the mayor is unwilling to do it,” he said.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, mayor blamed the PPP government for not giving powers to him and said, “PPP members should ask their government for powers rather than criticising me”. He added that last year he had no authority to release development funds, which were spent with the consent of the Sindh government’s appointed administrators and this year (2017-18) he will fairly distribute the development funds among treasury and opposition members of the council.

The mayor said that KMC has no authority over the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, Sindh Solid Waste Management Board or Karachi Development Authority and, despite having limited resources, the funds would be given to all opposition members soon.

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Boris Johnson should be jailed over Brexit claims, says ex-David Davis aide

In series of tweets, James Chapman asks ministers hard questions about leaving EU and calls for new party to avoid ‘catastrophe’

The former chief of staff to David Davis has said Brexit is a catastrophe, and suggested that Boris Johnson and other leading Brexit campaigners should be jailed for claiming there would be an extra £350m a week for the NHS after the UK left the European Union.

James Chapman, a former special adviser who now works for a public relations firm, expressed his real views about leaving the EU in an online tirade after working for the Brexit secretary for a year at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

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