Looking backwards at Muslims in Spain
A popular new TV series about drug trafficking in in Ceuta is perpetuating dangerous stereotypes.
Yasmina Aidi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages at Princeton University.
El Principe, the hit Spanish television series about drug trafficking and jihadism in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, is fun to watch. It’s amusing to see the lead villain, Farouq the drug baron, speak Spanish with a Cuban accent, and then curse loudly in a Moroccan dialect, «Din dyemak!»
It’s hilarious to see how all the sympathetic characters have green eyes and spend a lot of time exchanging glances. It’s even fun to witness the musical orientalism: Every time a Muslim character appears, a wailing melody starts to play and a mosque appears in the background.
El Principe is a curious mix between a US terrorism series like «24» and a steamy Mexican or Brazilian telenovela. The series is entertaining, until one realises that this show is actually shaping public perceptions of Islam and Spain’s Muslims, and that the six million Spanish viewers who tune in every Tuesday night take the show quite seriously.
In austerity-stricken Spain, the government and media have been warning of threats of radicalisation and terrorism.
With an anti-terrorism law in the works, the idea of a ‘fortress Spain’ has reared its head again.