I sat down like millions across the nation with much anticipation to watch the final instalment of the new BBC drama which has had the nation talking for weeks. The season finale promised to be a gripping and sophisticated reveal that was both exciting and surprising.
The six part series written by Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio began with hero protagonist Richard Madden of Game of Thrones as the sexy protection officer turned detective sergeant to the Home Secretary. After discovering a suicide bomber called Nadia (Anjli Mohindra) on a train whilst on board with his two young kids, he managed to successfully talk her out of triggering the bomb strapped to her trembling body. Initially, the viewer believes she is controlled by her terrorist husband resulting in the old stereotypical trope of the passive and helpless ‘jihadi bride’. This depiction of a female Muslim wearing a hijab only fuels the never-ending Islamophobic fire we see almost everyday.
What the viewer believes is a complex and tangled conspiracy which includes police, politicians and the secret service of course, was in fact a much simpler and basic storyline. The Muslim did it, the female hijab-wearing one of that. Throughout the series the plot thickens but even when no one suspects Nadia, the man on the inside who is believed to be leaking information and accountable for the bomb that kills the Home Secretary is Tahir Mahmood, does the name give it away? Alongside, Nadia’s husband it is the Muslims who are blamed almost entirely throughout the series and pinned as the easy targets and scapegoats covering for all the hidden conspiracies.
At the very end, I was in despair over the simple mistake that everyone believed that a Muslim woman could be a naive pawn and not a killer. Madden (James Budd) had underestimated Nadia’s ability to wreak havoc that was pure evil. Nadia proudly states “I am a jihadi” when interviewed by the police and grinning with a smile that can only be compared to a Cheshire cat at the thought of the carnage she has caused. Although Anjli Mohindra’s performance as Nadia as incredible. Indeed, reviewers have been raving about the series, with very few affected by the troubled and negative depiction of Muslims.
Hardly anyone has raised an eyebrow at the fact that all three Muslim characters on the show were terrorists or suspected terrorists reinforcing just how inured we have become to depictions of Muslims hellbent on causing mayhem and murder.
Mercurio responded to criticism, by stating that it was not Islamophobia but merely reflected ”the reality of our situation”. He said: “the principal terror threats in the UK do originate from Islamist sympathisers”. In my opinion, if it was realism that Mercurio wanted then the majority of Muslim characters would not be terrorists either. Forgive me for being disappointed that our beloved broadcaster aired its most popular drama for more than a decade that depicts its only Muslim female character as a murdering terrorist.
Quite annoyed with the #Bodyguard finale tbf. Just feels like lazy writing. Inevitably perpetuating the same stereotype we thought it was shattering and further fuelling islamaphobia / hatred towards Muslims and (by extension) the entire South Asian community. Nice work.
— Antonio Aakeel (@AntonioAakeel) September 23, 2018
Image: [Digital Spy]