The BBC has received almost 200 complaints about Muslim sterotyping in its new sitcom, Citizan Khan.
The six-part series, which premiered on BBC1 on Monday night, follows a Muslim community worker in Birmingham, and one viewer who complained to the BBC said the show ‘insulted’ and ‘ridiculed’ Islam.
“We feel though as if this show has crossed the line and we expected a comedy show, but now we have witnessed a mocking show,” said the viewer.
Complaints have risen overnight, but the BBC said it has evidence of a lobbying campaign.
The BBC said the first episode of Citizen Khan was watched by 3.6 million viewers, which it described as a ‘very positive start’.
A spokeswoman said: “We’re delighted that so many people enjoyed this new comedy and we have received a number of appreciations from members of the Muslim community and beyond in praise of the show and for creator Adil Ray, who like the family portrayed, is a British Pakistani Muslim.
“Alongside these appreciations, a small percentage of viewers have complained to the BBC regarding the show’s portrayal of the Muslim community.
“New comedy always provokes differing reactions from the audience and as with all sitcoms the characters are comic creations and not meant to be representative of the community as a whole,” she added.
The media watchdog, Ofcom, said it received in the region of 20 complaints about the programme.
Comedian Humza Arshad told the BBC’s Asian Network that he felt some of the jokes went ‘a bit too far’.
“I wasn’t offended, but I think some other people might be. For example, the scene with the Quran. Personally I’d play it safe. Some people might complain about it – I’ve got similar feedback myself by the audience, the Muslim community is one of the most sensitive communities out there.”
Former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Yousuf Bhailok said the show was ‘the best thing the BBC has done recently’.
“It is good to change the stereotyped image of Muslims always being serious and shouting that has appeared so often in the media,” he said.
“There is great humour among Muslims. I am glad it has been made.”