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MBC to air Arabic drama series focusing on ISIL’s female recruits

An intense and disturbing 30-part drama series showing what is life like under ISIL and how the terrorist organisation recruits women will make its debut on the MBC television channel during Ramadan.

Al Gharabeeb Al Soud (meaning Black Crows) is considered to be the first Arabic television show to delve into the rise of extremism in the region from a female perspective, relying on real-life accounts and true stories to “exposes Daesh’s despicable crimes, as well as its brutal methods involving repression and criminality”, according to MBC.

This is not the typical light viewing of Ramadan or the usual soap operas depicting lavish sets, elaborate costumes and romantic plot lines; episodes of Black Crow show everything from a matron clad in black and directing a group of teenage girls to get their rest before they are raped by ISIL fighters to the back story of a Christian woman who renounces her faith before planning to blow up a church.

All the show’s plot lines will feature well-known and documented atrocities committed by ISIL; reports that have made headlines around the world.

Children’s roles in the organisation is another plotline of the show, with episodes detailing the methods employed in recruiting children and the subsequent brainwashing and abuse they are exposed to.

The socio-political series will present the organisation structure within ISIL as well as the hierarchy of leadership, but its main purpose, says MBC, is to highlight exactly how women — and children — are recruited and convinced to join the organisation. Black Crows, say producers at MBC, will paint a picture of the Islamic State as a brutal criminal organisation run by leaders who are both corrupt and hypocritical, and the recruits are depicted as victims.

And like ISIL’s recruits, the show’s stellar cast comes from across the Arab region, including prominent stars from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The purpose of the shows, which will have English subtitles, according to MBC, is “to shed light on the importance of proper education, awareness and prevention”.

Ramadan is predicted to begin on Saturday, May 27. The show’s first episode will begin airing on the first night of Ramadan, following iftar. However, because Ramadan is the biggest time of the year for Arab television — a time when local and regional broadcasters prepare to unveil new shows produced with huge budgets (think star-studded dramas, regional sitcoms, game shows, spiritual chat shows and more) — the line up of each evening’s shows remains a well guarded secret until the first night of Ramadan.

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