Burka Avenger Fights For "Justice, Peace, and Education"

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Burka Avenger Fights For "Justice, Peace, and Education"

The Burka Avenger cartoon series wants to introduce a positive role-model for Pakistani girls and superhero fans alike.

Superhero stories are a pretty big market these days, to the point that they're not always based on Western comic books anymore. The genre is so large, especially at an international level, that creators can experiment with original characters that reflect unique cultural origins. Take Burka Avenger, a new Pakistan-developed cartoon about a teacher-turned-superhero that dons a burqa when fighting terrorists and corrupt politicians. Although the concept sounds like something from a sketch comedy routine, series creator Aaron Haroon Rashid appears to have a fairly noble goal: giving young Pakistani girls a role-model to look up to.

"So as an artist, you're always inspired by what's happening around you and all these issues are constantly staring you in the face in Pakistan," Rashid told NPR. "So I thought of an idea of a protagonist protecting a girls' school. And that's how the idea for the Burka Avenger developed."

Unlike certain other portrayals of middle eastern characters we know of, Rashid doesn't seem interested in reinforcing Islamic stereotypes. Its main character is Jiya, a modern and educated schoolteacher with close ties to the fictional community of Halwapur. When her school and students are threatened by radical extremists, Jiya takes to wearing a burqa by night while fighting for her city. "It's a really cool, sleek burqa, and she can leap off buildings and glide from, almost like a flying squirrel," Rashid says. "And she only fights with pens and books, because I wanted a nonviolent message. Her message is, 'Justice, Peace and Education for All.'"

Even though Burka Avenger is a children's cartoon, Rashid doesn't intend to shy away from serious issues. "Each episode is centered around a theme, moral, social message and we touch upon various issues," he continues, "like child labor, discrimination in Pakistan, sectarian violence is a huge problem, many issues like that. And one thinks these are really hard-hitting issues for a kids' show, but we've presented it in a very entertaining manner and kids have been absolutely loving the show and it's full family entertainment, you know, even adults are loving it, too."

Burka Avenger's first episode launched on July 28th, and its reception has largely been positive. The show does have detractors however; feminist speakers have criticized Jiya's costume, arguing that Rashid is making the controversial garb into a trendy symbol. To Rashid however, the burqa is simply an Eastern alternative to costumes that protect a superhero's identity. "We chose the burqa because, of course, we wanted to hide her identity the way superheroes do," Rashid explained. "She doesn't wear the burqa during the day. She doesn't even wear a headscarf, or a hijab or anything like that. She goes about her business as a normal teacher would. And so she chooses to wear the burqa, she's not oppressed. She chooses it to hide her identity the way a superhero would."

While Burka Avenger doesn't seem to be available in North America for now, I have to admit that the design and concept looks intriguing. The idea of socially relevant superhero cartoons isn't new (Captain Planet had a similar goal), but it's rare to see a superhero series that's so culturally focused. The show has a planned run of thirteen episodes, at which point we'll find out if Burka Avenger has enough of an audience to get even bigger.

Source: NPR

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I take my hat off to this guy, not only is he creating a superhero that's not another American hero #2 million, but he's also tackling issues in a non western country. Bravo sir, bravo *claps in approval*

Looks like she *sunglasses* threw the book at them.
http://cow.org/csi/

OT: Did I see a four armed zombie in that trailer? I totally think I saw a four armed zombie in that trailer.

She looks like a ninja more than anything in that outfit.

Oh oh wait, I just got another cheesy CSI line:

Looks like her pens really are *sunglasses* mightier than the sword.
http://cow.org/csi/

Awesome. Simply awesome. Especially this part: "And she only fights with pens and books, because I wanted a nonviolent message. Her message is, 'Justice, Peace and Education for All.'" I love it!
Education is the primary reason of why countries like Pakistan have so much religious extremism going on. So many children are brainwashed from a young age and and forbidden from any real education, they can't even imagine themselves believing anything else, what personal choice is, what freedom is, etc and it's not their fault so many of them end up becoming narrow-minded extremists themselves. Education is the ultimate solution.

At first I didn't really like how a Burka is being used (plus the first thing I thought was "wait, isn't this just a Ninja outfit?") because it's an extremely old and backwards tradition that came about to stop enemy warring tribes from stealing looks (or falling in love) with each others' women. Now all the tribes and tribal warfare days are gone, but for some absurd reason Burka's are still being enforced by some (retarded) families despite being completely fucking pointless.
But I understood Rashid's reasoning and changed my mind, the superhero doesn't wear it during the day and puts it to good use at night, plus it's something that culture can at least relate to :)

I really hope that Rashid, all the supporting creators and their families are kept safe while this cartoon is being aired. Any number of radicals/extremists could be plotting their murder as we speak. These assholes will go to any lengths to shut people down, even if it means trying to put a bullet into the head of a 14-year-old girl for inspiring similar messages of education and peace. Rashid's life is in very real danger, I applaud the sheer bravery of these people for doing something like this.

Heh.

Well, why not? It's not like it's any more goofy than a regular superhero costume. As least she isn't wearing her underpants on the outside. If you squint a bit she looks like a ninja in reeeaally baggy pants.

When I first read the headline, I thought this was going to turn out to be some whacked-out story, but I have to say good on him for coming up with this idea. Granted, I think we can all agree he and everyone associated with him and the cartoon is going to have to have armed bodyguards for the rest of their lives, I just hope everyone is able to stay safe.

Though I just have to say that regardless of how he frames it, to me the burka isn't much better and has all the same connotations to me as a white hood, so part of me will always cringe at that.

This cartoon will NEVER air in an Islamic run nation, which is the sad part about this.

Well I guess she doesn't run the risk of most every other superhero who only wears a domino mask. No one will have any idea who she is unless they can tell from her finger nails, or maybe the occasional ankle flash.

Colour me very intrigued.

The burkha costume is actually more believable then 99% of the costumes heroes usually wear that i can think off, i even initially thought it was a ninja based on the pic.

It seems to share a lot of elements with Captain planet (villains who are really kind of petty, the hero is literally made of moral lessons, not particularly smooth animation) but considering it is a cartoon from PAKISTAN that stars a strong female character that only puts on a burka to hide her identity (and look like a ninja) is nearly revolutionary for the area.

So she is kind of like a shitty ninja? Whilst I doubt I will ever watch this at least the story isn't set in New York like nearly every other superhero cartoon. Also it has a goat. Which is...different.

This is only made with good intentions which has to be a pure thing in conecpt. I hope its recives a warm and understanding reception. Good luck with social exception in ways we are yet to see otherwise.

Tanis:
This cartoon will NEVER air in an Islamic run nation, which is the sad part about this.

Not sure I understand. Last I checked Pakistan *WAS* an Islamic nation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan#Religion

From the Wiki:

Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion.

Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim-majority country[264] and has the second largest Shi'a population in the world.[265] About 97% of Pakistanis are Muslim. The majority are Sunni, with an estimated 5-20% Shi'a

Are are you thinking of a country which is a Theocracy like Iran?

On a general question to all, Since this is all locally produced I wonder why it was voiced in English instead of Urdu.

Mick P.:
This is great. Just wanted to start the comments flowing. Please don't ban this account ethically questionable overlords.

Dude.

You have three more mod-wraths before a ban.

If you bothered to read the terms that you typed "I AGREE" to, you'd know this.

Stop acting like that. You said you were never going to post here again, but lo and behold, you came back, so act like you want to be here instead of passive-aggressively insulting the mods.

OT: This is an actually really cool idea. I like it. I hope it sticks around after the initial run.

Tanis:
This cartoon will NEVER air in an Islamic run nation, which is the sad part about this.

Except its airing in Pakistan. Also known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The better question is, will this cause yet more depressing carnage in the middle east?

I'm digging the concept of this. I was put off at the burka at first but after it became apparent she was using it as a disguise, I can totally get into that idea. The burka does seem like the most realistic disguise for a super hero. It would be a hell of a lot more effective than a pair of glasses.

I'm cool with this, especially if keeps to what he said about it actually having meaning, children's shows are better when they are allowed to be more then just brainless entertainment.

lacktheknack:

Mick P.:
This is great. Just wanted to start the comments flowing. Please don't ban this account ethically questionable overlords.

Dude.

You have three more mod-wraths before a ban.

If you bothered to read the terms that you typed "I AGREE" to, you'd know this.

Stop acting like that. You said you were never going to post here again, but lo and behold, you came back, so act like you want to be here instead of passive-aggressively insulting the mods.

OT: This is an actually really cool idea. I like it. I hope it sticks around after the initial run.

A) I don't read terms that say I AGREE unless they are a paragraph.

B) I never said anything like that. I said I don't want my account banned. So now I must be hyper aware of that before posting.

C) All I know is my account is on Probation. Sounds serious to me.

D) Please don't address this account personally. This goes for everyone.

E) You never need an excuse to tweak the nipples of authorities.

F) Please don't address this account personally. This goes for everyone.

EDITED/G) don't reply to this post.

The animation looks terrible and it appears to be horrifically cheesy, but that is seriously the best concept for a cartoon I have ever read. I really hope I'm just making too early of a judgement call.

Well... this is....something.

Apparently kids love it, but the stereotypes made me groan. OTOH it's no worse in that regard than most other cartoons, especially old Looney Tunes.

And hey, stereotypes can be frikkin' funny when used properly...such as in old Looney Tunes.

Now, ahem.... I'm probably wasting my time, but....

Mick P.:

A) I don't read terms that say I AGREE unless they are a paragraph.

I believe there was a South Park episode about agreeing without even knowing what you're agreeing to...

B) I never said anything like that. I said I don't want my account banned. So now I must be hyper aware of that before posting.

C) All I know is my account is on Probation. Sounds serious to me.

And yet, you went ahead and made the type of post that is expressly prohibited by the rules that you agreed to, but did not read. Perhaps you should remedy this error.

D) Please don't address this account personally. This goes for everyone.

Whatever you say, bub.

E) You never need an excuse to tweak the nipples of authorities.

There's thumbing your nose at authority and there's outright breaking the rules. You should probably learn the difference.

F) Please don't address this account personally. This goes for everyone.

Okay Mick.

EDITED/G) don't reply to this post.

I teal deered before I got to this part. Soz!

Why is this trailer in English if it is being created for Pakistan by Pakistan? the skeptical side of me is telling be that this is an attempt to get people from western countries to donate money for the series even though the creator does not plan on actually planning on really working on the project. I really hope that skeptical side of me is dead wrong because this is definitely a worth while idea and needs to be supported.

So I'm guessing that the "biggest musical acts" are those popular in Pakistan? I've never heard of any of them.

The children are kind of annoying but I like the character design of the teacher.

It's less a burkha than it is a ninja costume though.

The message seems fine.
In general though, I have an issue with obscuring headwear that's being encouraged by extremists as a new religious tool(Since ca. 90's) and can't help but see some negative implications.

*shrug* I'll take it for what it seems to be, innocent entertainment with a moral lesson.

JSF01:
Why is this trailer in English if it is being created for Pakistan by Pakistan? the skeptical side of me is telling be that this is an attempt to get people from western countries to donate money for the series even though the creator does not plan on actually planning on really working on the project. I really hope that skeptical side of me is dead wrong because this is definitely a worth while idea and needs to be supported.

Don't you worry, mate. The cartoon itself is in Urdu, the creator just decided to also make an English trailer. That extra publicity never hurts, I guess.

Does the cartoon go into why she has to wear the costume because of oppressive religious dogma?

(BTW I am as disturbed over this this as I would be over any bible-based superhero if anyone is feeling hypersensitive)

Nurb:
Does the cartoon go into why she has to wear the costume because of oppressive religious dogma?

(BTW I am as disturbed over this this as I would be over any bible-based superhero if anyone is feeling hypersensitive)

Did you even read the story? She doesn't HAVE to wear the Burqa, she chooses to wear it as a disguise to help her fight crime and a lack of education. Really its a Pakistani version of Captain Planet, complete with the "Stay in school kids!" kind of messages

That sounds pretty damned awesome, actually.

Not to mention a burqa is ironically a lot more sensible than most female superhero costumes.

Sean Kay:

Nurb:
Does the cartoon go into why she has to wear the costume because of oppressive religious dogma?

(BTW I am as disturbed over this this as I would be over any bible-based superhero if anyone is feeling hypersensitive)

Did you even read the story? She doesn't HAVE to wear the Burqa, she chooses to wear it as a disguise to help her fight crime and a lack of education. Really its a Pakistani version of Captain Planet, complete with the "Stay in school kids!" kind of messages

She "chooses" to wear it because it's rooted in religious BS that wouldn't even exist if not for the bronze age segregation and hiding of property.

This is odd. Sounds like they're actually taking the old joke of the women in burkas looking like ninjas to heart and turning it into a TV show? Okay, she doesn't use ninja stars but she is employing throwing pens...

Also, apparently this teacher isn't wearing the burka in day-to-day life, only as her alter ego. Is that... a good message? I don't know. It tries to make the burka cool but at the same time it doesn't seem to make it a requirement.

Lastly... am I the only one who got kind of weirded out by that one bully? The smaller one? Namely, his nose? Seems like quite a stereotype at work there, or is it just me?

For some reason it reminds me of MLP:FIM in Pakistan. The way the creator is making this, (Not for marketing uses but for a actual show thats to be ts own) Having a moral lesson and such be the center piece of each episode.

Over all i would watch this if it came to America.

Nurb:

Sean Kay:

Nurb:
Does the cartoon go into why she has to wear the costume because of oppressive religious dogma?

(BTW I am as disturbed over this this as I would be over any bible-based superhero if anyone is feeling hypersensitive)

Did you even read the story? She doesn't HAVE to wear the Burqa, she chooses to wear it as a disguise to help her fight crime and a lack of education. Really its a Pakistani version of Captain Planet, complete with the "Stay in school kids!" kind of messages

She "chooses" to wear it because it's rooted in religious BS that wouldn't even exist if not for the bronze age segregation and hiding of property.

I suggest you read the article again, she does not wear it during the day (which she would if you were correct), she only wears it at night to cover her identity like other superheroes do. If you want to debate the burqa I suggest another topic to prevent this one from being derailed, in the case of this cartoon that argument is irreverent.

So... a Pakistani version of The Magic Schoolbus by way of Iron Monkey, with a little Captain Planet/GI Joe generic moralism tossed in for good measure?

I can dig it.

RicoADF:

Nurb:

Sean Kay:

Did you even read the story? She doesn't HAVE to wear the Burqa, she chooses to wear it as a disguise to help her fight crime and a lack of education. Really its a Pakistani version of Captain Planet, complete with the "Stay in school kids!" kind of messages

She "chooses" to wear it because it's rooted in religious BS that wouldn't even exist if not for the bronze age segregation and hiding of property.

I suggest you read the article again, she does not wear it during the day (which she would if you were correct), she only wears it at night to cover her identity like other superheroes do. If you want to debate the burqa I suggest another topic to prevent this one from being derailed, in the case of this cartoon that argument is irreverent.

Ok, the evil guys she fights are Indian and Jewish stereotypes...


i knew it

thats looks kind of cool, but why do they had to include a goat as sidekick for the comedic relief?
thats pretty damn cliché..

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