The ‘Caliphate’ t.v. series shows promise…
By: Daniel Otero
The new-Swedish series, ‘Kalifat’ demonstrates what is happening right now in this over-complicated world, where lines aren’t drawn anymore by armies in uniform or countries on the battlefield. They are drawn by converts into a new style of Twenty-first century extremist-radicalism and guerrilla warfare. What before divided nations by ideologies and nationalism, today it is more about a fanatical fervor which has dangerously engulfed our world–dividing it into east versus west.
In this case, the T.V. show brings drama between two countries: Sweden and Syria. Something which continues to happen between most North American and Europe countries when dealing with issues about the Middle East. The same problems that affect the people in war-torn Syria and the growth of Islamic radicalism. But it isn’t only about east versus west or Islamic extremism. It is how a first or second generation of Europeans born from Middle Eastern parents can’t fit or be accepted in their respective societies. Whether it’s because of racism or cultural clashes, youths in these countries struggle to be accepted when they don’t. Situations like these haven’t only surfaced in Sweden. They have come to light in countries like: the United States, Canada, Australia, Mainland Europe, Continental Africa, India, Sri Lanka and China. Take for example, the Paris-Terrorist attacks of 2015 on the Bataclan Club and the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo; the young men perpetrating these attacks were those who often felt ostracized by French society.
Extremism showing its ugly head and recruiting those who are vulnerable to the promises of paradise and a united-Islamic world. What affects or destroys the fabric of any society, is when people fight a holy war, something along the lines of jihad, and it is on the false promises of idealism. Those who fight these wars don’t comprehend, that while they think it is a fight for the greater good, it is the same fanaticism which drove the Christians to the crusades hundreds of years before.
The story begins as Agent Fatima (Aliette Opheim) is spying on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) through Pervin (Gizem Erdogan). The latter is passing intelligence information to her handler back in Sweden. Pervin is trying to get her family out of Syria, at the risk of her life, her husband’s and newborn. She is in danger, as the series shows when she is constantly abused: at one point raped and has to kill her perpetrator in self-defence.
The show goes back and forth between Syria and Sweden. Because ISIS is planning a terrorist attack in Sweden. The Swedish-Security Service personnel is collecting information to help combat ISIS terrorism and expose the cruelty of war in Syria. At the same time, these Agents are trying to save Sweden from future terrorist attacks.
The story then pan’s out to a group of teenagers who are feeling disenfranchised by Swedish culture with certain racist overtures by their teacher. One in particular starts converting to Islam, Sulle (Nora Rios). Another wants to become liberalized, while still wearing her hijab, Kerima (Amanda Sohrabi). There is also in the storyline a radicalised teacher’s assistant, Ibbe (Lancelot Ncube), a young man training other youngsters to become terrorists.
The story takes a path of trying to understand these youths and why would they give up all their comforts in Europe to go fight a war in the Middle East (whether in Syria or Iraq)? The answer is strangely simple and as crazy as it sounds, they want to belong in a society (become part of something) that often shuns and makes them feel like outsiders or left out.
‘Kalifat’ is a show which demonstrates what is transpiring in contemporary times with the world’s youth and those who convert to extreme Islamism. The Caliphate isn’t the only or first show to come out with this idea on the topic. The British series, ‘The State’ (2017) focused on this ongoing problem and what can be done for those who didn’t feel like they belonged.
What are the solutions for the often growing problems of xenophobia, hatred and racism towards foreigners? Education is the primary one and not leaving the poor, marginalised, young and minority groups feeling left out. Changing fanaticism for enlightenment. Not as easy as said and done, and it will take another generation to correct this problem. Another issue which needs to be tackled is the following: Islam has to experience a reformation, a change, the same one as Christianity went through centuries before. If there isn’t reformation, radicalism will continue to grow within the Muslim youth: these who are often ignored by governing societies in the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.
Now, ‘Kalifat’ is a joy to watch to help learn more about the complexities and existing problems with the war in Syria, terrorism, and view what is transpiring in Swedish-European life with certain minority groups. To not watch is to miss out on a learning experience, one of growth and to comprehend how terrorism affects all our lives.