Saudi Television Challenges Extremism in Anti-ISIS Series

Actress Dima Al Jundi performs in a scene from 'Black Crows' series, believed to be filmed in Lebanon, March 30, 2016. MBC Group/Handout via REUTERS

In the fight against extremism, mass media is a powerful tool. Broadcast into every home, television in particular has the ability to spark conversations among families and create a national dialogue that exposes the evils of radicalism.

During the month of Ramadan, one TV series is doing just that: across the Arab world, a Saudi-owned channel is broadcasting a series that depicts life under the brutal terror group Daesh, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL. Daesh has relied on media as a boon for recruitment. In recognition of the role that Arab media must play to counter these twisted narratives, satellite network MBC launched the $10 million project to shatter the illusions that potential terror recruits hold. By illustrating scenes of murder, rape, and violence, MBC’s “Black Crows” show is doing its part to destroy the propaganda that Daesh has disseminated online and through private media channels.

“The main audience we target, the most important and dangerous, are those who are prone to support and even join terrorist organizations,” MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek told Reuters in an interview.

Told from the perspective of a woman who becomes a leading figure in the terror group’s morality police, the show provides gripping imagery of mass graves, forced sexual slavery of Yezidi captives, and child soldiers indoctrinated to fight for the so-called Caliphate.

The proof of the series’ accurate portrayal of life under Daesh and its barbarism is further illustrated by the death threats that the show’s actors have received from Daesh supporters online.

Saudi Arabia: Ideological Warfare Against Extremism a Top Priority

The Saudi-funded show against extremism is a natural fit for the Kingdom, which recently established the Ideological Warfare Center to combat radicalism online. As Saudi Arabia has itself been the target of numerous Daesh attacks in recent years and Al-Qaeda offensives preceding the rise of Daesh, the country is determined to eradicate terror inside its borders and throughout the region.

Since the conclusion of Al-Qaeda’s campaign, Saudi Arabia has detained over 15,000 suspects linked to terror.

Read more here at Reuters.