LOS ANGELES – The ABC Family’s announcement of a new drama series about an American girl who is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family and forced to live in Saudi Arabia has generated backlash on Twitter over its official plot summary, with many calling it bigoted and Islamophobic.
One Twitter user called @aishacs, said: “My goal w/ HT #AliceInArabia is to help @ABCFamily see how the stated premise of show is offensive & in era of anti-muslim sentiment, scary.”
Another, @nourzein23, said “I want to be open-minded, @ABCNetwork what do you hope for viewers to gain through #AliceInArabia ? #islamaphobia #knowledge? #whatsyourgoal.”
The backlash started after ABC Family announced three new pilots in its programming, including one called ‘Alice in Arabia’.
“‘Alice in Arabia’ tells the story of an American teenager who is kidnapped by her extended family in Saudi Arabia and is forced to survive in a land that is foreign to her as she figures out a way home,” the official plot summary says, California radio station KPCC reported on Tuesday, March 18.
Reacting to the official summary, one Twitter user called @SamIAm_NoHam said "…while surviving life behind the veil. The veil is not a set of prison bars. Stop. #AliceInArabia.”
Another, @ImBizzyBee, said: “Am I the only one wondering why it's #AliceInArabia ? Does #ABCFamily think that the Middle East is similar to Wonderland? #ignorance”.
Trying to calm angry Muslims, ABC Family defended the show.
“We hope people will wait to judge this show on its actual merits once it is filmed. The writer is an incredible storyteller and we expect Alice to be a nuanced and character driven show," a spokesperson for ABC Family said in an email to KPCC.
ABC said the pilot has been written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously served in the US Army as a Cryptologic Linguist in the Arabic language, trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East.
She left service in September 2013 as a rank E-4 Specialist.
Adding to the running debates, someone claiming to be Eikmeier joined Twitter Tuesday and responded to the ongoing conversation, but that account was suspended as of Tuesday afternoon.
“I didn't write the logline. I know that getting female lawyers in courtrooms is a WAY bigger deal than veiling and say so. #AliceInArabia,” one tweet from @BrookeEikmeier said.
“Second, "kidnapped" is from her perspective. Her family's POV is they love her and a protecting her. #AliceInArabia. The characters are complex, diverse and not stereotypes. It shows human range and clashes of characters as well as culture. #AliceInArabia.”
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
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