Published Oct 15, 2015If you happen to read Arabic, you might have noticed something slightly amiss on the October 11 episode of the Showtime political drama Homeland. In it, the characters visited a gritty-looking Syrian refugee camp where the walls were peppered with Arabic graffiti. What set designers didn't realize, however, was that the graffiti translated as messages like "Homeland is racist," Homeland is NOT a series" and "Homeland is a joke, and it didn't make us laugh."
These messages were put there by street artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone, who call themselves the Arabian Street Artists and were hired by the show to help decorate the set with Arabic messages.
In a lengthy blog post, Amin explained why she considers Homeland racist due to its "inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as its gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad, and the so-called Muslim world in general. For four seasons, and entering its fifth, Homeland has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat."
The set decoration happened over two days, and Amin noted that the designers succeeded in creating a realistic-looking camp. She wrote, "The content of what was written on the walls, however, was of no concern. In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees."
In addition to the messages mentioned above, their graffiti included, "The situation is not to be trusted," "This show does not represent the views of the artists," "Homeland is watermelon" (watermelon being a word to suggest that something is not to be taken seriously), and "There is no Homeland" and "#blacklivesmatter."
That image above shows the Arabic phrase "Homeland is racist" appearing on the show.
Read Amin's full description of her opposition to the show and her protest against it here.