Breaking: Disney and ABC Family Drop “Alice in Arabia”

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Breaking: Disney and ABC Family Drop “Alice in Arabia”

Washington, DC | | March 21, 2014- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes the decision by the Disney Company, parent company of ABC and ABC Family, to cancel the show “Alice in Arabia.” ABC Family had purchased a pilot of the controversial show, and after coming under pressure from ADC, and our partners the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the show was cancelled. To read ADC’s original statement to Disney, click here.

ADC welcomes the decision, and hopes that the Disney Company will work towards resolving other issues raised, such as the depiction of Arabs in the series “Once upon a time,” as well as issues surrounding the “Aladdin” musical.

In a statement sent to ADC, Disney stated, “The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.”

ADC President Samer Khalaf said, “We welcome the decision by the Disney Company to cancel this show. By doing so the Disney Company, and ABC Family have rid themselves of a show that did nothing but perpetuate demanding stereotypes. Moving forward we encourage other media outlets to stay away from such programing and not engage in the stereotyping of any community. We look forward to continued dialogue and conversation with the Disney company.”

According to the official synopsis, “Alice in Arabia” is a television show about an American teenager who is kidnapped by her relatives and taken to Saudi Arabia, where she is kept as a prisoner in her Muslim grandfather’s home. According to ABC’s plot summary, “Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.” ADC strongly believes that imagery of the Arab and Muslim community as portrayed in the “Alice in Arabia” plot summary perpetuates demeaning stereotypes. The imagery and depiction of the respective communities as kidnapers and oppressors of women, reinforces harmful stereotypical depictions of the communities as thieves, criminals, persons who engage in violent acts, captives and/or persecutors.

In a letter to the CEO of ABC Family, Robert Iger, ADC President Samer Khalaf stated, “By purchasing the pilot, ABC Family has reinforced these damning views, and has shown the world that there is a market for hate and bigotry. ABC Family and the Walt Disney Company, as a major programming source for American children, adolescents, and families, possess immense influence on the American zeitgeist and next generation, and have a duty to exert that influence in a meaningful, positive way, not one that demonizes a people, a religion and a region.”

Click here to read the BuzzFeed article, “ABC Family Kills “Alice in Arabia.”

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