Saturday 22 October 2016

'Beardy, weirdy' Citizen Khan branded Islamophobic by MP Rupa Huq

Published 14/04/2016 | 17:16

Rupa Huq is not amused by Citizen Khan
Rupa Huq is not amused by Citizen Khan

BBC sitcom Citizen Khan has been labelled Islamophobic, with an MP suggesting she would not be surprised if a future episode features cutting people's hands off.

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Labour's Rupa Huq said the programme portrays a Muslim family as "quite backward" and showed some areas of television have yet to move forward from the sitcoms of the 1970s.

She criticised BBC and ITV productions from the past, including Till Death Us Do Part and Love Thy Neighbour, noting they demonstrated an inferiority to other races.

Ms Huq (Ealing Central and Acton), whose sister Konnie is a former Blue Peter presenter, told a Commons debate on BBC diversity: "All of these things are now excused, like Jimmy Savile's crimes, as 'it was acceptable in the 70s, this is a pre-politically correct time'.

"But in some senses it does feel almost that you can cite examples where we haven't really moved forward."

She added: "One I would cite that's a current programme, it's been going since 2012, is Citizen Khan.

"I feel if I didn't know what the year is... you would think it's an every day tale of a Birmingham family of Muslims but they're really quite backward.

"Again the Islamophobic point (Labour MP Chuka Umunna) made, it's a beardy weirdy chap and they're not quite cutting off people's hands but I can imagine that being in a future episode."

Mr Umunna (Streatham) earlier attacked the "representation of our Muslim communities" on broadcast television.

He said: "The rising Islamophobia that we see is in no small part to certain broadcasters, I've seen it happen on the BBC but on others, who put up so-called community leaders who purport to speak for that community but have no mandate whatsoever to do so."

A BBC spokesperson said: "The fact that Citizen Khan returns for its fifth series this year is a sign of its popularity with all audiences - indeed the show has won several awards including Best TV character at the Asian Media Awards.

"We've also had positive comments from members of the Muslim community for the show and for creator Adil Ray who, like the family portrayed, is a British Pakistani Muslim. As with all sitcoms the characters are comic creations and not meant to be representative of the community as a whole."

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