Fox is under fire from at least one group for scenes in the Jan. 9 debut of drama 24 that portray a Muslim teen-ager and his parents as members of a terrorist cell plotting a mass attack on Americans.
It’s the second Fox show to generate controversy in the past two weeks, following demands by the National Council for Adoption that Fox cancel Who’s Your Daddy, a guess-your-birthfather reality special the network may develop into a series.
Concerns about 24 were raised by a preview of the Jan. 9 season-opener in a DVD sent to some general entertainment magazine subscribers..
On of the villains is a Walkman-toting, bubble-gum-chewing teenager who fights with his conservative Dad about dating an American girl and talking on the phone.
The young man also helps his parents mastermind a plot to kill large numbers of Americans that begins with an attack on a train.
Over the breakfast table, the father tells his son: “What we will accomplish today will change the world. We are fortunate that that our family has been chosen to do this.“Yes, father,” his son replies.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, plans to bring their concerns about the episode to Fox, says group spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed.
That group has previously received complaints about the depiction of Muslims on 24, but this episode is particularly egregious, she said.
“They are taking everyday American Muslim families and making them suspects. They’re making it seem like families are co-conspirators in this terrorist plot." In another scene, she says, a terrorist is shown coming out of a mosque. The way the episode depicts Muslims creates an atmosphere in which many Americans look at all Muslims as suspects in the war on terror, she adds. “It’s very dangerous and very disturbing.”
Hate crimes and civil rights abuses against Muslims have soared since the Sept. 11 attacks. Surveys commissioned by the council show that more than 40% of Americans believe it’s appropriate to curb the civil rights of Muslims as part of the war on terror.
Officials at Fox had no immediate comment on the complaints about 24.
But the network has issued a written statement on the criticism of Who’s Your Daddy, which was leveled in a Dec. 22 letter from National Council for Adoption President Thomas Atwood to Fox Chairman Peter Chernin.
In that letter, Atwood said: “Under the best of circumstances, the broadcasting of adoption-reunion stories tends to intrude and exploit,” the letter said. “But Who’s Your Daddy? takes the media’s misguided fascination with adoption openness to ridiculous new heights, and adds to the media’s distorted presentation of the openness issue.”
Fox’s statement said that the show wasn’t intended to offend anyone.
“The title of this special is attention-grabbing,possibly contributing to controversy,” the network said. “It is not indicative, however, of the special’s actual content. The willing and informed participants are some of the tens of millions of adopted Americans unable to reunite with their biological parent(s). They seized the opportunity to participate, and the result is compelling.”