CAIRO - 15 June 2017: Now that we have reached the halfway point of Ramadan most of the drama series’ have stablished a clear plot and most of them can be followed with an indication of what to expect even with most controversial and darkest of drama series; Gharabeeb Soud.
In the first week of Ramadan we wrote about Gharabeeb Soud and the first impression it gave after one episode and today it seems that the initial reaction it produced; a mix of shock and sensational plots that are not always connected, is the core aim of the drama.
The series gives an insight into the division that lies within the leaders of Daesh and the distrust that exists amongst them, and their rivalry and corruption. The audience is also invited to see how the “volunteers” are given choices of the area they want to work in, for example the women are asked if they want to join “jihad nikah” (marrying a Daesh fighter), electronic/scientific jihad or be part of the law and order patrol team better known as Al-Hisba.
But the shallow approach that was adopted by the producer made the series less convincing as almost all of the volunteers regretted joining the terrorist group which might be true in some cases, but we know that the majority stick with the group to the end.
Though it is gripping for audience members who have learnt about Daesh atrocities through the news, “Gharabeeb Soud” may not be a show for those who have lived under the heavy hand of the terrorist group. It relies heavily on sensationalism; gun violence, rape and sexual abuse and as such is more than just an anti-Daesh production.
In handling the terrorist group as a phenomenon generated only by religious extremism, the show is too simplistic. Daesh expanded its reign in the region taking advantage of the ethnic and sectarian tensions, which had erupted in the Arab world. We actually saw a glimpse of this when a Daesh female fighters curses Shiite when one of the volunteers asks her “are these Jews or Christians” the Daesh female replies “they are far worse, they are Shiite whose loyalty is with Iran” and that is the only scene that politics and sectarian politics was addressed clearly in the series. It is hard to accept the series’ narrative that regards Daesh members as “ill raised, anti-social, bad people that happen to be around each other!”
A lot is missing
The group’s structure and many layers are completely ignored by producers, as are its methods of funding and training which are also vital in its continued strength and expansion. Just like the fact it is not entirely clear where the series is set; Syria or Iraq, at certain points we assume it is Iraq due to the dialect that is being used then suddenly it is switched to Syrian. Plus we are not told when the events are taking place because the drama series is showing the gradual breakdown of the terrorists group yet we know that 3 years ago they were a strong group and only started crumbling in the past year or so, this is not reflected accurately.
The series completely bypasses the fact that Daesh found its opportunity in the policies of bloody repression, social injustice and marginalisation associated with dictatorial Arab regimes, and how the crackdown intensified since 2011, making it a misconception, an ill-characterised version of reality.
According to Gharabeeb Soud, the vast majority of people who join Daesh or help them are “victims” who are brainwashed, only to realise the group’s brutality and long to escape. This is an overly simplistic explanation of the group’s hierarchical structure and people’s affiliation to it, defeating the entire point of the production.
There is a long way to go before a reliable, fully informed series on Daesh can be broadcasted on mainstream media outlets, partly due to the fact that it is a complex group with complicated ties; ones that will not be exposed to the general public.