- Title: Saudi-owned TV drama fights Islamic State propaganda
- Date: 1st June 2017
- Summary: DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (MAY 28, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MBC SPOKESMAN, MAZEN HAYEK, SAYING: "So, they have used the media ever since they were created until now, media is part of their offensive strategy. Therefore media institutions have the right, actually the duty, to face such a media offensive - which is funded and presented on social media and the internet and using all means available - by producing a series. Better yet, it is our duty as the media to produce tens of series like Black Crows."
- Embargoed: 15th June 2017 15:20
- Keywords: MBC Saudi Arabian TV channel United Arab Emirates Dubai Black Crows ISIS Ramadan TV show
- Location: UNIDENTIFIED FILM LOCATIONS / DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
- City: UNIDENTIFIED FILM LOCATIONS / DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
- Country: United Arab Emirates
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Television
- Reuters ID: LVA0066JG21JP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Saudi-owned television channel has launched a drama series portraying the brutality of life under the Islamic State to counter sleek propaganda from the jihadist group which has won it recruits worldwide.
Beamed across the Arab world by satellite channel MBC, the $10-million project reflects the kingdom's self-appointed role at the forefront of a Muslim bulwark against extremism which was underlined in a May 20-21 visit by U.S. President Donald Trump.
"Black Crows" shows women and children living under the jihadists and is the first television drama to tackle subjects such as mass murder and rape, contrasting sharply with the idyll of heroism and holy war projected by IS on social media.
''The main audience we target who are more important and dangerous are those who are prone to adopt, accept or support, not to say join, terrorist organizations. These are the ones to whom we want to show the reality of terrorist organizations and tell them that these people are not heroes like they portray themselves, they are villains,'' said MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek.
Actors and MBC staff have told local media they received death threats online from IS supporters because of the show.
Filmed in Lebanon, the more-than-20-part series that started on Saturday (May 27) follows the widow of an Islamic State commander turned leader of a women's morality police force. There are scenes of gutted homes, mass graves, big explosions and gunmen waving black flags.
Plot-lines include women from the Yazidi religion being captured and forced into sex slavery, child-soldiers and a woman with a forlorn love-life moving to territory held by the group to become a "jihadi bride".
Since Islamic State launched its lightning offensive across Iraq and Syria staging beheadings and releasing carefully crafted films to draw in new recruits, Arab and Western governments have sought to counter their message.
The subject matter strays widely from traditional programmes: Middle East period drama or romantic soaps.
However, Syrian actress Dima Al Jundi who plays the morality enforcer says only art can convey the depth of human suffering the group has wrought in a way viewers need to see.
''If you open YouTube you will see murders or suicide bombings, but details of their daily life, you don't know. You don't know how they recruit kids, how they abuse women, you don't know how they deal with each other, who does this and who does that. So these are the things that the series tried to concentrate on so it can show the world the reality of this organization,'' she said.
Hayek added that media organisations have a 'right' and a 'duty' to produce such a series so as to combat IS propaganda.
The show will aim to reach a big audience of Muslim viewers as they break their fast in the evening for the holy month of Ramadan - a prime season for TV dramas. MBC together with its sister entertainment and movie channels are the most watched network in the Arab world.
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