A TV show featuring extreme pranks where celebrities were kidnapped by actors dressed as ISIS militants and forced to wear fake suicide vests has been banned in Iraq.
Tannab Rslaan or Rslaan’s Shooting, features different celebrities each episode getting “ambushed” by armed men mainly from Shia militias, or sometimes Iraqi security forces dressed in ISIS uniforms.
Most episodes feature the celebrity guests begging for their lives while host Rslaan Haddad makes ridiculous comments like “are you afraid?” as he directs the blindfolded guest.
On Monday the Iraqi media regulator, part of the Ministry of Communications, banned the show, which aired on Baghdad’s Asia TV, after outrage spread over the fake violence and the way in which guests were being humiliated. In a statement, Iraq’s National Communications and Media Commission said that the show spread and glorified “violence and fear.”
“We call all the television channels to avoid broadcasting footage and videos of kidnapping and detention of people because such coverage leads to promoting more of these acts and renews the trauma of the victims,” the statement said.
However, host Haddad wrote on Facebook that the show was not being banned, merely suspended due to the anniversary of the death of Imam Ali, a cousin and companion of the Prophet Muhammad.
Special TV programmes made for the Ramadan period draw vast audiences across Iraq every year, with millions of families watching TV together after breaking their fast, but this year attention has focused on anger surrounding Tannab Rslaan.
Public anger peaked after an episode was aired showing Wafa Salim, 54, an Iraqi actress, better known by her stage name Nisma, who accompanied Haddad to a house in a village outside Baghdad that was previously controlled by ISIS. During the episode, Nisma is ambushed by fake ISIS militants and blindfolded, while sounds of gunfire and explosions are heard in the background.
Nisma is visibly distressed during the episode and is heard to cry, “Aysar, I’m coming to see you soon,” calling the name of her late brother who was killed by ISIS militants. Haddad later tells viewers the episode was designed "to record the history as it was and remind Iraqi people of the bravery of the armed forces against ISIS.”
YouTube has taken down the episode for violating the platform's community guidelines.
Iraqi regulators have also banned another show, Tony’s Bullet, which aired on Zagros TV in Mosul and the Sunni populated areas. The show says it aims at raising awareness against celebratory gunfire among Iraqi society, and weapons in the hand of civilians in general, but it does so via the host pretending to be fatally wounded before coming back to life to pass on an anti-guns message.