Ramadan series ‘Black Crows’ actresses tell Al Arabiya of ISIS death threats

Ismaeel Naar
Ismaeel Naar - Staff writer, Al Arabiya English
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Kuwaiti actress Mona Shaddad say that she, and other cast and crew of their Ramadan television series, have received death threats from ISIS this year for playing roles of women who joined the radical extremist group.

Inspired by true events, Black Crows currently airs on the Middle East Broadcasting Channel (MBC) over Ramadan — prime time for viewers across the Arab world. It is ever television series of its kind to depict life under ISIS rule in Syria and Iraq.

Shaddad plays a woman who joins ISIS in Iraq after 20 years of failing to find a husband in her home country Kuwait and hopes of being one of the “jihadi brides” for ISIS fighters.

“The role I play is very important because it touches upon the topic of how easily brainwashed some people can be and led to believe that they are joining an extremist group for good reasons when in reality, they are not,” Shaddad told Al Arabiya.

Gulf actresses get threats from ISIS for roles in ‘Black Crows’ Ramadan series
Gulf actresses get threats from ISIS for roles in ‘Black Crows’ Ramadan series

“The main motive and goal for me joining this very important Arabic project was to change the narrative and depict the true brutality of the group,” she added.

The show, in only four episodes so far, has shown how brutal life under ISIS really is. One scene shows ISIS making use of young children in the production and sale of narcotic drugs and another scene depicts how ISIS men sexually assault women and children under their rule.

The drama on MBC - the biggest broadcasting network in the region – has to no surprise angered ISIS supporters, both online and offline.

“I’m not afraid because I know that my first protector is God almighty. Secondly, this production had and has the protection of several governments, and especially from the owner of MBC Group. At the end of the day, my aim was to break ISIS through my talent of acting and show them for who they really are,” Shaddad said.

RELATED: MBC challenges extremist ideology with new drama series on woman of ISIS

For Saudi actress Aseel Omran, the death threats from ISIS has not phased her given that she lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

“If you asked me a few years ago whether threats from ISIS scared me, I’d say yes. But let’s be honest, we live in Dubai, one of the safest cities in the world. For now, I’m not feeling it but let’s wait for the half-way mark of Ramadan and see how the threats look like, God forbid they do though,” Omran told Al Arabiya’s Sarah Dundarawy.

Gulf actresses get threats from ISIS for roles in ‘Black Crows’ Ramadan series
Gulf actresses get threats from ISIS for roles in ‘Black Crows’ Ramadan series

From Yazidi slaves and mothers who lost their children, to the group’s extremist ideology, the series does not shy away from showing the realities of victims living under ISIS rule. According MBC Group’s Director Ali Jaber, the channel knew what they were getting themselves into by tackling ISIS.

“These people do not need an excuse to attack MBC. MBC in its existence as a moderate voice in the Arab world and in our society is a contradiction to their existence,” Jaber, who is also a judge on the reality TV show “Arabs Got Talent,” told Al Arabiya in a previous interview.

Last year, another comedy show on the network that aired last Ramadan and mocked ISIS led to death threats being sent to its star, Saudi actor Nasser al-Qasabi.

Black Crows has already started grabbing headlines worldwide, such as The New York Times, as it props itself to be one of the biggest shows this Ramadan.

Al Arabiya’s Tarek Ali-Ahmad contributed to this report.

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