Channel 4’s controversial documentary My Week as a Muslim received 152 complaints, but broadcasting regulator Ofcom will not investigate.
The one-off show, which aired on Channel 4 last month, saw Katie, a woman from a predominantly white town who had previously expressed anti-muslim views, don deep prosthetics in order to understand what it was like to be part of the Pakistani Muslim community in Manchester.
In a report published on Monday, Ofcom announced that the programme received 129 complaints on the grounds of racial discrimination/offence before the show had even aired, and a further 23 after it had been seen by the public – but that it felt the show “did not raise issues warranting investigation“.
A spokesperson for Ofcom told RadioTimes.com: “We assessed complaints that this programme reinforced racial stereotypes.
“While we understand some viewers found this programme challenging, we found that the purpose of altering a woman’s appearance to disguise her as a Pakistani Muslim was to challenge racial preconceptions, and not to perpetuate negative stereotypes.”
In October, viewers took to Twitter in droves to criticise the documentary’s handling of the issue on Twitter. The gist of the criticism boiled down to the following comment: “why not just ask a Muslim?”
Why not just interview Muslim women about their lives rather than having a bigot play dress up for a week? #MyWeekAsAMuslim
— Megan (@megsteinberg) October 23, 2017
Producer Fozia Khan then defended the show in the Guardian, explaining why they decided to tell the story from the perspective of a white woman: “People have suggested that we could have used a different approach – such as giving Muslim women hidden cameras to show their experiences. This has been done before, and we wanted to try something different.”
“Blackface’ or ‘brownface’ has historically been used as a form of entertainment to mock non-white people. This film is the antithesis of that,” she added.
“Its purpose is to inform and promote understanding between communities, not to caricature them.”
Read our analysis of the controversy here.