Why Muslim Americans Are Giving "Alice In Arabia" Major Side-Eye

"Behind the veil," again.

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On Monday, ABC Family ordered the pilot for a new show, Alice in Arabia:

"Alice in Arabia" is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather's royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil."

The show's pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier. According to the L.A. Times, Eikmeier formerly worked for the U.S. Army, supporting NSA missions in the Middle East.

Facebook: brookecyan

She was a cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language until September 2013 and reportedly started working on the series while she was still in the military.

The synopsis, the latest in a long line of similar portrayals of Muslim women on American television, prompted an immediate backlash. Pakistani-American writer Aisha Saeed got the conversation trending under the hashtag #AliceInArabia.

My goal w/ HT #AliceInArabia is to help @ABCFamily see how the stated premise of show is offensive & in era of anti-muslim sentiment, scary

Aisha Saeed@aishacs

My goal w/ HT #AliceInArabia is to help @ABCFamily see how the stated premise of show is offensive & in era of anti-muslim sentiment, scary

02:04 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Some believe the show threatens to perpetuate stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims as predators and terrorists.

Great. Another racist ass drama written by white people about how barbaric brown people are. #aliceinarabia can't wait. Thanks a lot ABC.

Maya Bhat@Kashmirkiikali

Great. Another racist ass drama written by white people about how barbaric brown people are. #aliceinarabia can't wait. Thanks a lot ABC.

11:16 PM - 17 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@Faineemae From freedom to oppression. Kids, this is why you shouldn't run from your parents-the Arabs might catch you! #aliceinarabia

Huda Alawa@hudablossom

@Faineemae From freedom to oppression. Kids, this is why you shouldn't run from your parents-the Arabs might catch you! #aliceinarabia

05:33 AM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@girlyouflyyy #AliceInArabia perpetuates stereotype of Arab/Muslim as terrorist. Fuels negative perspectives and not true representation.

Trྫྷ Vi@tinybambui

@girlyouflyyy #AliceInArabia perpetuates stereotype of Arab/Muslim as terrorist. Fuels negative perspectives and not true representation.

09:25 AM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Others were offended by ABC Family's comment about Alice having to "survive life behind the veil."

"While surviving life behind a veil" Uhh?? I'm "surviving" life "behind" a veil. But i happen to embrace it&choose to do so. #AliceinArabia

Noonii (Simba)@Noonii_TU

"While surviving life behind a veil" Uhh?? I'm "surviving" life "behind" a veil. But i happen to embrace it&choose to do so. #AliceinArabia

10:18 AM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Images of the Islamic veil has served as a symbol of oppression in the West, #AliceInArabia only perpetuates the notion & erases choice.

Ainee Fatima@Faineemae

Images of the Islamic veil has served as a symbol of oppression in the West, #AliceInArabia only perpetuates the notion & erases choice.

11:12 AM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

They couldn't unveil Muslim women in life so now they have a show about a white girl who infiltrates the oppressive veil #AliceInArabia

Zahraa@loredsaviour

They couldn't unveil Muslim women in life so now they have a show about a white girl who infiltrates the oppressive veil #AliceInArabia

11:51 AM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

And many Muslim Americans have little trust in a white woman to represent their experiences accurately.

lol of course a white lady who worked for the US government thinks she has the authority to write about Arabs #AliceInArabia

Ima Haque@lollllsummer69

lol of course a white lady who worked for the US government thinks she has the authority to write about Arabs #AliceInArabia

01:57 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Arab&Muslim writers are fully able to voice their experiences..So let's hire a US soldier who has absolutely no bias instead! #AliceInArabia

Sarah@buonasahra

Arab&Muslim writers are fully able to voice their experiences..So let's hire a US soldier who has absolutely no bias instead! #AliceInArabia

02:41 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

And yet another case of the media educating the American public about a "foreign culture" through a white washed lense #AliceInArabia

Hawa Henderson@HAWAyoudoing

And yet another case of the media educating the American public about a "foreign culture" through a white washed lense #AliceInArabia

02:31 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The author's military background was also a target of criticism.

Automatic consideration of a military professional as an expert on occupied/surveilled people is inherently oppressive #AliceInArabia

Steve@yeaThatSteve

Automatic consideration of a military professional as an expert on occupied/surveilled people is inherently oppressive #AliceInArabia

02:00 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

I'm gonna take the premise of #AliceInArabia as a direct and accurate reflection of the US military.

Sana Saeed@SanaSaeed

I'm gonna take the premise of #AliceInArabia as a direct and accurate reflection of the US military.

01:16 AM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

This in turn prompted a wave of demands that the network hire a Muslim writer.

Lol @ writer of #AliceInArabia saying she's trying to give her voice to Muslim women. No. How about @ABCFamily hire Muslim writers instead

Mirzya Zaidi@mirzzaidi

Lol @ writer of #AliceInArabia saying she's trying to give her voice to Muslim women. No. How about @ABCFamily hire Muslim writers instead

03:25 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

There is nothing "noble" in speaking for others, There is no "empowerment" in having one's voice co-opted. #AliceinArabia

Rozina Ali@rozina_ali

There is nothing "noble" in speaking for others, There is no "empowerment" in having one's voice co-opted. #AliceinArabia

05:48 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Stuff like this takes up spaces needed for our own voices to be presented #AliceInArabia

Ahmad Abuznaid@DiplomatEsq

Stuff like this takes up spaces needed for our own voices to be presented #AliceInArabia

05:33 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Author Eikmeier responded to this criticism in a Facebook comment:

Yes to creativity. But where's acknowledgement of Muslim/Arab otherization, & her own privilege? #AliceInArabia

Ayesha Mattu@Ayesha_Mattu

Yes to creativity. But where's acknowledgement of Muslim/Arab otherization, & her own privilege? #AliceInArabia

05:41 PM - 18 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Where is it headed? Al Jazeera's "The Stream's" Muslim-American host Wajahat Ali told BuzzFeed in an email that he hopes ABC Family will reinterpret this as an opportunity to combat Islamophobia:

"It feels like I sat in a Delorean and went back in time to the 80's and 90's where most things Muslim, Middle Eastern and Arab were inelegantly lumped into a simplistic bouillabaisse of sinister stereotypes featuring irrational, bellicose, angry, intolerant, "brown" folk.

However, this represents an opportunity for ABC Family to reach out to American Muslim and Arab American community leaders, consultants and writers to ensure the show's depiction of an oft-marginalized region and peoples is nuanced, balanced and engaging. No one is asking for an apologetic propaganda piece or the celebration of politically correct talking points – that leads to bad art and bad stories. But, there should be a sensitivity and cultural awareness as to how this story affects national and international communities.

Currently, the two major root causes of Islamophobia in America are ignorance and media depictions. Television is a powerful and influential cultural force that can either reinforce dangerous stereotypes that perpetuate fear and bias or break the mold and humanize religious and ethnic communities that are often portrayed as antagonists, sidekicks or are utterly excised from the American narrative."

And ABC Family spokesperson Jennifer Verti said:

"We hope people will wait to judge this show on its actual merits once it is filmed. The writer is an incredible storyteller and we expect Alice to be a nuanced and character driven show."