BBC’s Citizen Khan has to be the most distasteful genre of comedy on British prime time television, writes Dilly Hussain.
I can just imagine white folk watching the character of Mr Khan “community leader” and being in absolute stitches whilst at the back of their minds thinking “what a bunch of dumb pa*is” even if some of it is remotely factual.
To the airheads and stoners within our community who are absolutely oblivious to the socio-political reality facing Islam and Muslims in the wake of 9/11, the show may seem like a good laugh. But those with an ounce of intelligence can see right through this sorry excuse of a programme, which fails miserably to assimilate Islam into “mainstream” British comedy.
Many of you may remember “Goodness Gracious Me” – that was genuinely funny because it didn’t particularly pick on the religious aspects of Hinduism, Sikhism or Islam; instead it expanded on the cultural stereotypes white Brits had about Asians and vice versa.
What makes Citizen Khan literally cringworthy is the sordid effort BBC and Adil Ray in particular have made in depicting Pakistanis, but to me Muslims from the subcontinent in general as backward, uneducated, stingy and racist.
Casting and characters
This is how I perceive each character to be and I’ve held back generously in my depiction!
Mr Khan (Adil Ray) – The self professed “community leader” who drives a crap Mercedes. A pathological liar, racist, rude, highly irreligious who is a proud Brit and Pakistani but rude to his guests and disrespects his mother-in-law. He mocks Islam and non Pakistanis at any given opportunity. Always looking to impress and show off to others whilst being an absolute discredit to human existence, and constantly making sexual innuendos.
Mrs Khan (Sobu Kapoor) – Your “typical” nagging wife, always has the best interest of her children at heart. Stuck with a loser of a husband for life.
Shazia Khan (Maya Sondhi) – probabaly the most genuine (but misunderstood) within the Khan household. A bimbo engaged to another bimbo. Bit of a coconut.
Alia Khan (Bhavna Limbachia) – Mr Khan’s favourite daughter, who wears the hijab, reads the Quran (in reality a magazine in disguise) and constantly on her Blackberry texting her boyfriend no doubt. Her character is depicted to be one of a “model” Muslim/Pakistani teenager who is anything but practicing. With more make-up than a circus clown she’s constantly pulling the wool over her parents’ eyes.
Amjad Malik (Abdullah Afzal) – the thick idiot who is engaged to Shazia.
Mrs Malik (Harvey Virdi) – the arogant mother of Amjad who is constantly competing and putting down the Khans based on their material wealth.
Dave (Kris Marshal) – a white Muslim convert who is the mosque chairman and is referred to as “ginger” and “gora” (white) by Mr Khan.
Omar (Felix Dexter) – Somali Muslim who speaks with a Nigerian accent. Spoken to and treated like a Martian from Mars by Mr Khan.
With the exception of Adil Ray and Abdullah Afzal, it’s ironic how the rest of the cast are Indian non-Muslims, similar to the disgraceful Masoud family in Eastenders, which begs the question, would any genuine God-fearing Muslim be willing to play these roles without compromising Islamic principles?
Racism and Sexism
Whether it’s the way Mr Khan speaks to Dave or looks at Omar, it was clear from the first episode of series one that anyone who isn’t a Pakistani isn’t really regarded as a “Muslim” in the eyes of the main protagonist.
A white Muslim convert cannot be involved in mosque issues nor can a Somali Muslim give advice on religious matters. The image screaming out from the TV screens is that only over-50s, bearded Pakistani men who wear a “Jinnah topi” (hat) have the right to comment on religious and mosque affairs.
Whilst I appreciate an element of racism does exist not only within the Pakistani community, but also the Bangladeshi and Indian Gujarati community (even towards each other), it is nowhere next to as blatant Citizen Khan makes out to be. Whether you’re Arab, Turk, African or Asian, there will always be racism and nationalism among those who are actually ignorant of Islam’s true teachings of brotherhood.
Another theme that runs through Citizen Khan up to the new series is that Muslim men dictate everything whilst the women stay at home but in reality steer the decisions.
Again, aspects of this do exist. Within some Muslim households, the men do the work, earn the money, provide the food, call the shots, make the decisions whilst the women look after the house and raise the children. In other households, the men do all of that with exception to the decision making and calling the shots – yes, women do “wear the trousers” in some Muslim households!
My point is that Citizen Khan does no justice to what a blessing marriage and wedlock is in Islam. The respect and honour between husband and wife, the treatment of children and the compassion between siblings.
Instead the masses are shown a phlegm-coughing, sexually-frustrated husband, a pestering wife, deceptive promiscuous teenage daughter and a ditzy daughter who is engaged to mentally-incapable corpse!
Mockery of Islam
I’ve saved the most important bit till the end. In a nutshell, is it really productive and beneficial for “community cohesion” that the BBC air such a show amidst all the misconceptions non-Muslims already have about Muslims and Asians in Britain?
We are already perceived as a suspect community, who are failing to integrate and assimilate. We are seen as terrorists, radicals, extremists and so forth. How does mocking Islam console this?
By taking the pi** out of the Islamic greeting (salaam), takbeer (Allah hu Akbar), salaat to name just a few, what is it that Citizen Khan is trying to achieve? That like American Jews and European Christians, Muslims are ready to satirize their religion under freedom of expression to make people laugh?
Is this what is meant by “integration” into mainstream Britain? Hold on, why am I ranting on like this? I forgot, it is BBC after all, the expert on Islam and the vanguard of impartial coverage.
And of course, this is Adil Ray, the man who recently said in the Birmingham Mail that Muslim women at colleges shouldn’t wear the niqab and supported BMC’s initial niqab ban.
I’m not going to say don’t watch Citizen Khan because I admit I watch it myself! Just be aware that behind the sickening humour, the BBC are sending Muslims an indirect message – that toleration of shows like Citizen Khan and more Adil Ray-type Muslims is what British society wants in the twenty-first century.