Channel 4 accused of ‘brownface’ over new ‘My Week As A Muslim’ documentary

Controversial show airs next week

A new Channel 4 documentary called My Week As A Muslim has sparked a racism row.

The show airs next Monday (October 23) and sees a white woman going undercover in British daily life as a Pakistani Muslim in order to expose Islamophobia in the UK and experience the day-to-day struggles of minority groups.

In a press release, Channel 4 said the show was “an immersive programme that will explore what it’s like to be a Muslim in Britain today and challenge some of the assumptions and prejudices that different communities in the UK have about each other”.

However, the Muslim Council of Britain has criticised the show’s use of “brownface”. The woman going undercover in the show is given make-up to darker her skin tone and wears a prosthetic nose as well as a hijab and other traditional Muslim clothing

“The use of brownface and blackface has a long racist history and it is not surprising that it has caused deep offence amongst some communities. Had we been consulted, we would not have advised this approach,” a MCB spokesperson told The Guardian.

“We do, however, laud the apparent goals of the documentary – to better understand the reality of Islamophobia, which has become socially accepted across broader society.”

Fozia Khan, the documentary’s executive producer, has defended the show, saying: “The programme allowed Katie to meaningfully walk in the shoes of someone from a different background and to experience what it is like to be part of the British Pakistani Muslim community, rather than observe it as an outsider.”

Khan also said that the rise in Islamophobia following Brexit influenced the show. “We saw divided communities, people living side by side but not mixing. We wanted to do something bold, a kind of social experiment: to take someone with no exposure to the Muslim community and give her a really authentic experience. The transformation in her appearance was important for that.”

“If we’d done it for entertainment purposes, I can see why it would be offensive. But its purpose and intention needs to be understood. I feel really proud of it and I hope that when people see it, they will understand why we did it.”

You can watch a trailer for the show above.