Friday, 2 November 2007
"Britz" - food for thought?
While Martyn is continuing on his pilgrimage I have fallen in front of the TV after work for the last two evenings to watch "Britz" on Channel 4. So far this year I have hardly had time to watch any TV so was amazed to find that I was able to watch a drama which was on two nights running.
Written and directed by Peter Kosminsky, Britz focused on a Muslim brother and sister, British born to Pakistani parents. The siblings are pulled in radically different directions by their reaction to life post 9/11. I know that there were many exaggerations to make points but it did make me think about the way many young Muslims may feel. As someone who would want to see herself as an activist in terms of social justice, I was challenged to see how it would be possible for a young woman who had seen her friend driven to suicide and then been persuaded that her political activism was going nowhere, to be drawn into something sinister. That is not to say that it is right, but to see that there are points when it would have been possible to influence that energy for good. Nasima begins as a medical student who campaigns against the Iraq war. Her brother, Sohail, played by Riz Ahmed, is a law student who offers for MI5 and finds himself in disbelief at times as members of his friends and family are shown to be involved in terrorism. He feels the system has worked for him and wants to pay something back to Britain. Eager to play his part he begins investigations into a terrorist cell. Their influences push them in different ways.
The description of life under a control order which led to Nasima's friend committing suicide had great impact on me. I understand that only 17 such orders are in place with 9 of those for foreign nationals, so there would have had to be more to the story I think than being in possession of 6 large bags of pepper, but the points of loss of freedom were made. This pushes Nasima to listen to the radical influences she had previously rejected and ultimately to train as a suicide bomber. There are also elements of romance and family intrigue as both young people decide which things to hide from their family.
I found the storyline held me for the 4 hours and it is important to remember that these issues have many subtle layers to them. We remember Nelson Mandela, received now by heads of state, once dismissed as a terrorist. We see those in Ireland who have spoken against each other, now working together. What can we learn to avoid wasting years in that kind of conflict? The actress, Majinder Virk, who played Nasima, ended one interview by saying:- As the American writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin once said: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until faced".
We need to be aware of the influences in our society and how they are seen and felt by different people. As a Christian I recognise that my faith is not as well thought of as it once was, that I do not have a right to be heard just because I am a Christian. That many people have been hurt by individual Christians and by Christian bodies, including the Church. However, I know that my faith has been a power of good both for many individuals and for communities and I want to find ways to offer that in ways that make sense in today's world. Food for thought indeed.