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New Keeley Hawes drama under fire for ‘shifting focus’ from Muslim murder victim to white detective

The series has been described as an ‘ultimately uplifting story’ of police heroism

Adam White
Wednesday 26 June 2019 11:13 BST
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Killing Eve triumphs at the TV Baftas

A new ITV drama, inspired by the honour killing of British Muslim woman Banaz Mahmod, has come under fire for its decision to tell the story through the eyes of a white detective, to be portrayed by actress Keeley Hawes.

Honour, which was announced on Monday, has been described by ITV as telling “the powerful story of Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode’s passionate search to discover the fate of missing 20-year old Banaz”.

Mahmod was a 20-year-old Londoner, whose 2006 murder was ordered by her father and uncle in revenge for her decision to leave the man she had wed in an arranged marriage. Mahmod had sought police help five times prior to her murder, fearing that she was to be harmed by her father and uncle. The Independent Police Complaints Commission later found that she had been consistently let down by police.

On Twitter, the actor and writer Furquan Akhtar condemned ITV’s decision to frame the story from the perspective of a white detective, along with the racial makeup of its key production team. He tweeted: “It shifts the story from being about [Mahmod] to the white detective who ‘got her justice’. The project has a white lead, writer and director.”

A statement by the drama’s screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes, in which she described Honour as an “ultimately... uplifting [story]” because of “the sheer heroism and dedication of the police officers who hunted down her killers”, has also been met with criticism.

[It’s] a strange way to see this,” tweeted Murdered by My Father and Doctor Who screenwriter Vinay Patel, “especially since [Mahmod’s] boyfriend, who was torn apart by these events, ended up dying by suicide years later.

Honour, which will be broadcast as a two-part miniseries, begins production in September.

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