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Is the BBC’s ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’ comedy sketch in poor taste?

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A BBC show has sparked controversy online after mocking British women who have travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and marry its fighters.

The Real Housewives of ISIS is a two-minute comedy skit produced as part of BBC 2’s new ‘Revolting’ show, which marks the return of pranksters and comedians Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse to British TV.

The sketch was originally published online on Tuesday and quickly gathered millions of views.

But many were unhappy with the way the sketch made light of the lives of women living under IS in Iraq and Syria.

In one scene, one of the housewives is seen pondering what to wear for a beheading.

Another character, named Hadiya, says: “I’m so glad I’ve moved over here. It’s everything those guys on the chatrooms told me it would be.” She is then seen scrubbing the floor of a house bombed to rubble.

Muslim comedy writer Faraz Ali told Al Jazeera: “For the few documented events where young girls, often under 18, have left the UK, there is no doubt this has been a result of dangerous grooming and misguidance.”

He later described the show as being in “poor taste.”

“Making light of this situation feels inherently wrong, almost capitalizing on the suffering of these young girls who acted without proper insight,” Ali added.

Others took to Twitter to share their objections. One user, Hashashin Tag, wrote: “‘It’s about ISIS wives, not all Muslim women.’ Well that’s great except we Muslim women already get called ‘ISIS whores’ by strangers thanks.”

“So the BBC has aired a ‘comedy’ sketch in a show titled ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’. I need to make it clear that on no basis this even satire,” tweeted another user, Selin Kara.

Other users backed the skit. Political Scrapbook editor Sunny Hundal said: “My opinion: it’s great!”

YouTube star Ali Shahalom, also known as Ali Official, wrote on his official Facebook page: “Personally, I found the content very funny and wasn’t offended at all. The sketch ridicules online grooming and draws attention to an important topic. The whole point of satire is to expose stupidity. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t offend religion. Satire like this highlights the absurdity of those that recruit and get recruited for ISIS.

“I see the context as a sensitive but relevant subject that writers should be exploring. Above all else, I would hope impressionable minds who could potentially be brainwashed/groomed, can see this and understand the ridiculousness of the whole thing and NOT be brainwashed or groomed.”


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