Source: Autostraddle

During the past two years, the media has been increasingly keen on representing Muslim women, particularly those who wear the hijab.

While the movement has been hailed as a step closer to full inclusivity, some Muslim women have raised concerns over the way this acarried out, as it sometimes involves reinforcing stereotypes or fetishizing Muslim women. 

When it comes to television, some productions have been stirring controversy with "token hijabi" characters. American drama series How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) is a case in point. 

In an episode released last week, titled "Whose Blood Is That?," the show featured a hijab-wearing female character, Nanda Hashimwho was married to a woman.

Played by Ramona DuBarry, Hashim is a Muslim Rohingya immigrant serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing her wife, Ally. 

Hashim, who was widowed after being married to a man, had moved to the United States and married Ally to get the American Green Card. However, over time, Hashim and Ally genuinely fell in love and the latter converted to Islam for her wife.

Throughout the episode, Annalise Keating, the powerful lawyer the series revolves around, helps Hashim prove she did not kill her wife but was instead pressured to take the plea deal by her overworked public defender.

The episode notably shed light on the plight of Rohingya Muslims who face prosecution and discriminatory policies in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar.

The Rohingya Muslim community lives in wide-spread poverty and faces constant discrimination and persecution from the Buddhist majority population. Tens of thousands have fled as refugees, mainly to Bangladesh.

The episode also highlighted Hashim's struggles as a queer Muslim woman, as homosexuality is generally prohibited in Islam.

Ramona DuBarry

Hashim's character drew mixed reactions online, with some Twitter users criticizing the show for the move and others praising the bold statement.

Here's what people had to say:

People are lost for words


"The level of agendas... far too much"

This Twitter user won't be watching the show anymore

But others thought it was a bold statement

And they seemed pretty excited about it

"HTGAWM is shaking all the tables"

Not the first western TV show to feature a hijabi character

Last year, American TV series The Bold Type sparked controversy and was labeled as "offensive" to Islam for featuring a Muslim lesbian character played by Canadian-Iranian actress Nikohl Boosheri. 

Meanwhile, in Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Dahlia Qadri - the show's first hijabi intern - stole hearts when she took off her hijab and wrapped it around a patient's leg to stop the bleeding in an attempt to save his life.

Several other shows, such as Orange is the New Black, Mr. Robot, and Degrassi have included hijabi characters as well. 

While some of these productions have portrayed Muslim women in a positive light, many tend to depict their Muslim characters in a narrow lens, often revolving their entire roles around the fact that they are Muslim.