Prank show features fake ISIS attacks on celebrities, sparks outrage
An Iraqi prank TV show that strapped suicide vests on celebrities and even featured their fake ISIS kidnappings has been pulled off air after massive outrage. The show is considered to be in poor taste, as Iraqis still face militant violence. Many celebrities like footballer Alaa Mhawi and actress Nessma were reportedly blindfolded and "pranked." The participants were even told they would be executed.
The show, Tannab Raslan, had celebrities visiting Iraqi families, who they believed were displaced after fleeing from extremists. They were later ambushed by "fake" jihadists, who threatened to kill them and made them beg for their lives. Their ordeal ended when "troops" came and rescued them. In an episode where Nessma was kidnapped, she even passed out after believing she was walking through gunfire.
The makers made sure that the ambush seemed real. There were many vehicles full of gun-wielding jihadists that surrounded the house with fake rounds being fired. Nessma had to endure the whole ordeal even after she had fainted in fear. Mhawi, who represented Iraq 44 times internationally, pleaded for his life, saying, "I'm your brother, I'm Iraqi and I represent the whole nation."
Reports say entrapping celebrities in TV shows are a staple in the holy month of Ramadan, but it was the inclusion of terrorism that upset people. A viewer wrote on social media, "I don't see what pleasure you could get watching these people being tortured in this way." Meanwhile, another made a snide remark, "Next year, we'll have Saddam," referring to the dictatorial leader.
The show's presenter Raslan Haddad, also referred to in the program's title, called the cancelation unfair, as he believed it showed the bravery of Iraq's security forces. Haddad also refused to accept the show crossed any lines. In fact, he claimed, "Participants have no objection, they agreed to it." To recall, ISIS was defeated in a three-year-long campaign with assistance from US-led forces.