While we’re at it, I also want to address Alison Abdullah, the “Muslim” representation in OINTB who I don’t think represented Muslims at all. Like as a hijabi woman myself, I found nothing relatable about Abdullah. Other than the constant jokes about her being a terrorist, there was virtually nothing to show that she was actually a Muslim woman. There was nothing authentic or realistic about her character.
I remember when I was in school and the girls used to ask me and my hijabi friends if we wore our headscarves in the shower, or to bed. Which are two ridiculous and preposterous questions. The fact that Abdullah virtually never took off her hijab, despite being surrounded by solely women for the majority of her screentime does not represent my experience as a hijabi woman. The fact that the only time Abdullah takes off her headscarf is at the very end of the season makes no sense. The fact that she does it in the open yard where anybody could have seen her hair, included male prison guards, does not represent my experience as a hijabi woman.
Nor did Alison Abdullah represent any tenants of my faith. Though she spoke of knowing East from West because she prays to Mecca five times a day, we never see Abdullah actually praying to Mecca at any point. We don’t see her even own a prayer rug. We never ever see her practise her faith. And while I think that Muslim women should be able to aggressive and loud and what-have-you, but for the sole representation of a Muslim woman to be all of those things instead of upholding standards of peace in accordance to her faith is disappointing.
Representation is not creating a character and tacking on a religion. It’s actually understanding what that religion is, understanding the nuances of a character who would adhere to that faith. It’s adapting her character to that religion, understanding that her character would actually be affected by her beliefs. Representation is NOT creating a Muslim character in order to make jihad and terrorist jokes. So no. OINTB does not got points for creating a “Muslim” character. Abdullah does not represent me as a Muslim woman, nor as a hijabi.