The Iraqi media regulator canceled a TV show that lured guests into simulated ambushes by militants, forcing participants and viewers to relive some of the terror and fear that was prevalent under the Islamic State group’s rule .
The show, Tannab Raslan, aired as a special during the holy month of Ramadan until the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission this week ordered it to air amid widespread outrage from viewers.
The show – a form of reality TV – follows Iraqi celebrities, including actors and footballers, who are invited to what is described as a “charity event” but who then fall prey to in various storylines. an ambush staged by actors playing militants. They are then released by other actors playing the Iraqi security forces.
Ambush reenactments include fake weapons and stunt blasts as “militants” threaten to detonate fake suicide vests.
Hidden cameras are filming everything – and the fear gripping the show’s guests is real. The show raised ethical concerns and provoked outrage from angry viewers who said its content was very offensive.
“The scenes once again bring back memories of Daesh,” said Bashir al-Saddi, a resident of Baghdad, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “Frankly, this is not acceptable, it is inhuman and uncivilized. “
But some, like one of the cast and presenter of the show Raslan Haddad, argued that the cancellation was unfair because the show also portrays the heroism of the Iraqi security forces. “The decision is unfair,” he said.
In one of the more controversial episodes, cameras follow Iraqi actor Nessma Tanneb as she is taken to a rural area outside of Baghdad on the pretext of meeting a family freed from Isis’ reign.
Along the way, she is told at a mock checkpoint that the area they are about to enter is dangerous and that she was attacked by Isis militants three hours earlier. Tanneb is visibly worried and asks to turn around but is ignored.
Once she is brought inside a house, an explosion is heard and actors playing activists storm the building. Tanneb – who at this point is blindfolded – screams, screams and eventually faints as actors portraying Iraqi soldiers storm the scene and “free” her.
The show was produced by the Popular Mobilization Forces, a government-backed umbrella group made up mostly of Shiite militias, many backed by Iran, who fought alongside Iraqi security forces against Isis.
During her reign of terror, Isis engaged in kidnappings, beheadings and slavery, especially of women. Thousands of people have died in the struggle to oust the militants from Iraqi territory.
Despite the outcry, Haddad is not convinced the show has crossed the line and insists the contractual deals would result in huge penalties for the channel.
Isis was defeated in a three-year campaign with the help of US-led coalition forces. At the height of his power, Isis held a third of Iraqi territory and terrorized those under his authority.
“The participants have no objection, they accepted it,” Haddad said.