Middle East

ISIS Brutality Becomes a TV Series

During the 30-days of Ramadan, and while Muslims in the Arab world have been fasting since May 26, millions have tuned into Saudi Arabia’s MBC to watch the first ever series about ISIS.

The Arab world’s most-watched satellite channel has just finished airing the dramatic television series Black Crows.

Black Crows, inspired by true events, depicts daily life for women under ISIS. The series focuses on the women who volunteer or are forced to join the jihadist group and the fear that shapes their relationships.

The drama is narrated from the viewpoint of women and highlights the militants' cruelty against them. The series also depicts children being subjected to the group’s abuse and brainwashing and shows how ISIS uses them as snipers and assassins.

Many at MBC hope that the dark and violent series will influence those who have watched the program and will help to undermine the narrative that the Islamic State uses to entice recruits.

MBC program director Ali Jaber said that “We believe that this is an epidemic, this is a disease that we must have the courage to address and fight.”

The actors and crew of Black Crows have received death threats from ISIS, and MBC, the largest private broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa, has increased security at its locations in Cairo, Dubai, Beirut, Riyadh, and Jeddah. 

The Qatar media, including Al-Jazeera, have taken a critical stance on the Black Crows show, and have been accused of inciting terror and death threats against MBC.

Ali Jaber, a Lebanese journalist, media consultant, TV personality and the Group TV Director of MBC, had this to say about the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera to Arab News: “What is hard to swallow is why Al-Jazeera, which understands very well the risks of inciting radicals against media practitioners would want to put the lives of their colleagues at MBC at risk when they are supposed to be with us in the same anti-terrorism camp. They should rise above any politics… media ethics should never be affected.”

According to Arab News, journalist Abdel Latif El-Menawy, the former head of Egypt’s state TV news under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, said that Qatar had been “furiously attacking” its neighbors in the Gulf. He also said the Al-Jazeera TV channel had “unintentionally revealed its true positions” in its attack on the MBC series.

The adverse comments against Al-Jazeera come at a time of heightened tensions in the Gulf region. On June 12, several Arab and Islamic countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over Doha’s alleged support for extremist groups.

Mr. Jaber went on to say that MBC knew what they were getting themselves into by tackling ISIS: “These people do not need an excuse to attack MBC. MBC in its existence as a moderate voice in the Arab world and in our society is a contradiction to their existence.”

Jaber added that "ISIS is not only an organization. It's an idea; it's a narrative. And you don't bomb an idea. You fight an idea with a more progressive, more compelling idea."

He also said the network hopes to produce an English-language version for wider distribution.

Critics are hailing Black Crows as one of the best shows this Ramadan and has already garnered worldwide headlines.