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This New Netflix Spanish Drama Explores Islamophobia in Europe

by in Identity on 9th November, 2018

 New Netflix series, ‘Elite’ created by Darío MadronaCarlos Montero  and written by FórmulaTV  has caused a wave of reactions recently, as the main themes surrounding the show really dive in to  themes surrounding Islamophobia, HIV and the working class, and how this can play out in a private school in Spain after three new working-class students challenge the status quo by joining the school. The new show features actors’ Omar AyusoMiguel Bernardeau, and Mina El Hammani among many others.


The most exclusive school in the country, Las Encinas is where the Elite of the country send their teens to study. After an earthquake destroys their school, three working-class teens join Las Encinas. The interesting disconnect arises between the working class and upper-class, as the teens project themes and attitudes of those who are not afraid to transgress boundaries based on their economic security and those who do not have the same privilege, which ultimately works up to a terrible murder.  As the series unravels we are taken on a journey as spectators are invited to examine who may have committed the crime? Which has given the series credit to be rivaled with that of ‘Gossip Girl’, ’13 Reasons Why’ and, ‘Pretty Little Liars’.

One of the three teens that joins the school is Omar, played by Omar Ayuso, who faces challenges in the show,  in the first episode, his friend Samuel confronts him, played by Itzan Escamilla, about his drug abuse, and dealing. Samuel wishes to encourage his friend to work in a legal respectable position, but Omar’s character opens up a new conversation about discrimination in the workplace and how white privilege can bring about a stark divide in opportunities for teens who may have the same academic rigor, but different ethnicity and religion, when he is blocked from finding a suitable job due to employers not calling him back for interview.

Omar’s sister, a Muslim-Palestinian girl, in one of the first episodes Nadia, played by Mina El-Hammani, “is ordered to remove her headscarf by the principal or face expulsion in a scene that plays heavily on the debate over whether to ban headscarves in schools that has gripped Europe in recent years.”

This draws on the many discussions and narratives that have arisen in our mainstream media channels over the last few years, on the way the laws and governance in European countries treat religious symbols such as hijab in Europe. Drawing on 2004, and the French ban on the wearing of all noticeable religious symbols in public schools, which ultimately impacted those wearing hijab. And in 2016, when one Muslim woman was forced to miss a week’s worth of classes as she refused to remove her headscarf. These events have not slowed either, widespread controversy emerged recently when a primary school in London was put under a magnifying lens when the pupils were banned from wearing headscarves, as Prevent officers believed it was wrong to ‘sexualize’ little girls by putting hijabs on them. They quickly backed down from the ban, when a largely negative backlash from the public ensued. From this perspective, the writers of Elite sought to use Nadia’s character to reflect and amplify these obstacles young Muslims face in largely secular institutions, especially when having to ‘integrate’ into European society.

Co-writer Dario Madrona told Arab News, “We wanted to work with this character because it’s something that is happening in Europe. This is the reality that we see every day…(Nadia) reflected the idea of what Muslims have to face in Europe every day. Because you are part of a different culture, you don’t know if you can integrate. People look at you funny sometimes,” he added.

The series is also filled with small islamophobic rhetoric and references when Nadia is faced with hateful words such as being referred to as the ‘Taliban’ from her classmate Lu,  played by Danna Paola.

The show also draws on themes of romance often used in teen series but hits controversy when the love interests are between a Muslim girl and a non-Muslim boy, we are smelling a fetish brewing. The two have garnered a lot of positive attention from the online space, as main love interests  of RomCom’s often do. Minna El- Hammani,  has also been featured in the British TV series, “The State.”

Here is how Twitter reacted

Amaliah Writes

Amaliah Writes

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