A BBC Two comedy sketch depicting the fictitious lives of four women married to Islamic State fighters has prompted a heated debate over its appropriateness and alleged insensitivity.
Revolting’s ‘The Real Housewives of Isis’ mirrors the similarly-titled factual shows featuring cities such as New York and Atlanta, showcasing the lavish lifestyles of the upper classes.
The BBC’s spoof version instead shows four women taking selfies, worrying about what they are going to wear to a beheading and getting annoyed when two of them buy the same identical suicide vest.
Reaction to the satirical show was polarised between those who saw the funny side and those who thought the sketch was distasteful and insensitive to the plight of women married to Islamic State fighters in real life, often teenagers sold a version of life in Syria far removed from the harsh reality.
The BBC Asian Network tackled the controversy in a Facebook post.
He wrote: “I’ve seen quite a few friends of mine post this on their FB – many outraged others who loved it. I’ll just make three points. First, it’s hilarious.
“Secondly, why shouldn’t the BBC be allowed to make fun of ISIS or their supporters? So what if it’s offensive? That is the point of comedy sometimes, and it’s about time we had more BBC stuff poking fun at Muslim/Sikh/Hindu communities. Not all of us are unable to laugh at ourselves. If the BBC did a skit about Khalistan I would laugh at that too (if it were funny) and defend their right to do so.
“When Goodness Gracious Me first came out, it was also criticised by some Asians as being too close to the bone. And so what? It was a classic.
“Thirdly. Yes, some of these wives of ISIS are victims. In fact some of the skits show that (’8 ft chain’)… but some also went there as willingly as adults. They deserve to be ridiculed.”
The BBC declined to comment.
The issue of Islamic State wives has particular resonance in the UK as a number of young girls have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State.
Last August Kadiza Sultana, one of the three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green who fled to the war-torn country was killed in an airstrike.
The 17-year-old is thought to have died in a Russian air strike in Raqqa, IS’ the then- de facto capital.
Sultana and her friends Shamima Begum and Amira Abase were the subject of huge press attention when they fled Britain, via Turkey, to join IS, in February 2015.
ITV News reported Sultana had become disillusioned with life under IS and was planning to escape and return to Britain when she was killed.
In an interview with the programme, her sister Halima Khanom said: “Things have changed. The way she used to communicate with me… The way she used to talk about things has totally changed. Up until now. She’s scared of being there.”