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Monday, March 24, 2014

ABC cancels series on American teen kidnapped by Saudis

ABC Television in the United States has canceled a series whose main character was an American teenage girl who was kidnapped to Saudi Arabia. Pam Geller writes at Breitbart that the series was canceled due to pressure from CAIR, Hamas' US branch.
The show was apparently about an American girl who is kidnapped by Saudi relatives and has to learn to live in Saudi Arabia. Alice in Arabia was described as “a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.”
BuzzFeed reported that the script “describes veiled Muslim women as ‘completely formless, anonymous.’ One sympathetic female character, in describing her lavish Riyadh home, lauds it as ‘worth having to wear a silly veil while outside.’”
What is wrong or offensive or untrue about that?
BuzzFeed also noted that “the show has some departures from the standard template. The heroine is half Saudi, and sees herself as a ‘good Muslim girl’ — not the blonde Christian victim more typical of the genre. But it broadly plays on a familiar narrative of a beautiful girl kidnapped from the United States by sinister Arabs, held against her will in the desert, and threatened with early marriage.”
Clearly they are in apologist mode. Nonetheless, CAIR wrote to ABC Family that it was “concerned about the negative impact this program could have on the lives of ordinary Arab-American and American Muslims” and claimed that Alice in Arabia “may engage in stereotyping that can lead to things like bullying of Muslim students.”
CAIR wrote to ABC Family that it was “concerned about the negative impact this program could have on the lives of ordinary Arab-American and American Muslims.”
Pam notes that it's been 25 years since the American entertainment industry dealt with this problem.
Who speaks for those girls? The last time Hollywood addressed this horror was 25 years ago, with the feature film Not Without My Daughter, starring Sally Field. I guarantee you that in Alice of Arabia, ABC wasn’t planning on presenting anything even close to that. You can bet that it would have been a whitewashed and silly presentation of the situation of women in Saudi Arabia, but CAIR didn’t want even that.
CAIR fights against shows like Alice of Arabia because they don’t want any discussion at all of the plight of women under Islamic law. They do not want any light at all shed on this problem, no matter how benign the presentation. TV shows can focus on the situation of women in any country except Muslim countries. Period. No “Arabia,” no kidnapping -- no matter how prevalent it is in real life, as well as sanctioned by the Sharia.
I showed Not Without My Daughter - the entire movie - on this blog in October 2010.

The problem of American women being kidnapped to Saudi Arabia is real, and it usually involves Saudi men marrying American women and then bringing them 'home' to Saudi Arabia. This is from a US State Department (!) advisory on the issue from 2003.
Most American women fall in love with westernized Muslim traditionalists, leery of the West and its corrosive ways, and eager to prove their wives' conformity to Saudi standards. The husbands are not "Arab princes" of western folklore; rather, they are part of the vast majority of Saudis who "get along" with the help of extended family members and marginal expectations. Their American citizen wives are often from the South/Southwest (where many Saudis prefer to study), they have virtually no knowledge of Saudi Arabia other than what their fiancés have told them, and do not speak Arabic. When they arrive in the Kingdom, they take up residence in the family's home where family members greet them with varying degrees of enthusiasm and little English. Typically, their only driver will be their husband (or another male family member), their social circle with be the extended family, and they will not be permitted to work or appear uncovered among men to whom their husband is not related. Initially, the American citizen spouse will be almost entirely isolated from the large western community that resides in the Kingdom. Gradually, the spouses who survive form a network with other American citizen women married to Saudis. The majority of American citizen spouses fall into this category.
Inevitably, American citizen spouses characterize their Saudi husbands during their school days in the United States as being completely "westernized"; drinking beer with the best of them, chasing after women and generally celebrating all the diversities and decadence of a secular society. Women married to Saudis who did not fit the stereotype of the partying, or playboy/prince, are careful to point out that their spouses nevertheless displayed a tolerance toward all of these diversions and, particularly, toward them. In other words, the Saudi-American relationship virtually always blossoms in the States, in a climate that allows dating, cohabitation, children out of wedlock, religious diversity, and a multitude of other Islamic sins which go unnoticed by Saudi relatives and religious leaders thousands of miles away.
American citizen wives swear that the transformation in their Saudi husbands occurs during the transatlantic flight to the Kingdom. There is the universal recollection of approaching Riyadh and witnessing the donning of the black abayas and face veils by the fashionably dressed Saudi women. For many women, the Saudi airport is the first time they see their husband in Arab dress (i.e., the thobe and ghutra). For those American women reluctant to wear an abaya (the all-encompassing black cloak) and for those Saudi husbands who did not make an issue of the abaya prior to arriving, the intense public scrutiny that starts at the airport—given to a western woman who is accompanying a Saudi male—is usually the catalyst for the eventual covering up. Since the overwhelming majority of American citizen wives never travel to the Kingdom prior to their marriage, they are abruptly catapulted into Saudi society. When they arrive, their husband's traditional dress, speech, and responsibilities to his family re-emerge and the American citizen wife is left to cope with a new country, a new language, a new family, and a new husband. Whether a Saudi has spent one year or eight studying in the United States, each must return to the fold—grudgingly or with relief—to get along in Saudi society and within the family hierarchy that structures most social and business relations.
Social pressures on even the most liberal Saudi are daunting. Shame is brought upon the entire family for the acts of an American citizen wife who does not dress modestly (e.g., cover) in public, who is not Muslim, who associates with men other than her extended relatives. Silent disapprobation from family and friends is matched by virulent public disapproval by the Kingdom's religious proctors (Mutawwaiin) and vigilante enforcers of the faith. Several American wives, fearing the latest round of religious harassment, have started fully veiling; not to do so, they discovered, meant public squabbles with the Mutawwaiin who vociferously oppose dual-national marriages. The experience of all dual-national couples is that voluntary and involuntary compromises are made or simply evolve. The sum of these compromises is quite often a life very different than the one imagined and speculated upon in the safety of the United States.
Read the whole thing. I wonder how many American women could have been saved by that television series.

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