With Graffiti, Artists Slip a Claim of Racism into 'Homeland'

By Dan Bilefsky; Mona Boshnaq | International New York Times, October 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

With Graffiti, Artists Slip a Claim of Racism into 'Homeland'


Dan Bilefsky; Mona Boshnaq, International New York Times


Three artists took credit, saying it was a protest of false and misleading stereotypes in the series, which has been criticized for its portrayals of Muslims.

In a recent episode of Showtime's hit series "Homeland," the former C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison is escorted by a Hezbollah militant past the wall of a fictional Syrian refugee camp covered with graffiti in Arabic.

Attentive viewers who read Arabic, however, might have noticed something awry. Among the messages spray-painted on the walls: "'Homeland' is racist," "There is no 'Homeland"' and "'Homeland' is not a show."

The subversive messages seemingly escaped the notice of the producers of the television series.

On Wednesday, an Egyptian artist, Heba Y. Amin, and two other artists, Caram Kapp and Stone, took credit for the graffiti, saying it was a subtle protest against false and misleading stereotypes in the series, which has been heavily criticized for its portrayals of Muslims.

Ms. Amin said she and her colleagues had been hired by the show's producers to add authenticity to the camp depicted in the episode -- Season 5, Episode 2 -- which was filmed on the outskirts of Berlin and aired in the United States on Sunday.

The three, who call themselves "Arabian Street Artists," said they used the opportunity to vent their "political discontent" with the show.

"The series has garnered the reputation of being the most bigoted show on television for 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," the artists said in a statement on Ms. Amin's website, asserting that they had "hacked" the series. "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. …

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