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Graffiti artists snuck 'Homeland is racist' into latest episode of Homeland

Street artists say they planted subversive messages to protest the show's stereotyped portrayal of the Arab world

Heba Amin

A group of graffiti artists claims to have placed subversive messages throughout the latest episode of Homeland, as part of a protest against the show's "racist" portrayal of the Arab world. In the episode, which aired Sunday, Homeland star Claire Danes can be seen walking by a wall that has been tagged with the phrase "Homeland is racist," written in Arabic.

In a statement published online, the three street artists said they were contacted over the summer by a friend who had been hired to create Arabic-language graffiti for an episode shot in Berlin. The episode takes place in a refugee camp near the border between Syria and Lebanon, and Showtime needed artists to tag the set in order to lend it authenticity. The artists say they were given examples of "pro-Assad graffiti," but instead chose to plant messages that criticized the show for its simplified and what they see as racist depiction of the Muslim world.

"The situation is not to be trusted."

"For four seasons, and entering its fifth, 'Homeland' has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat," the artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone wrote in a joint statement published Wednesday.

The trio also created graffiti that read: "Homeland is NOT a series," "The situation is not to be trusted," and "This show does not represent the view of the artists." In their statement, they said that the show's set designers were too busy to verify their work, and that "The content of what was written on the walls... was of no concern."

"In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees," they write.

Homeland racist
The graffiti on the left reads "Homeland is racist."

Homeland has come under criticism for its treatment of relations between the US and the Arab world, with some accusing the show of peddling stereotypes and inaccuracies. Storylines in previous seasons have portrayed Al Qaida and Hezbollah as close allies, and its fourth season drew the ire of Pakistani officials for its depiction of Islamabad as a "grimy hellhole."

Showtime has yet to comment on the graffiti protest, but showrunner Alex Gansa says he regrets not catching it before Sunday's broadcast. "We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air," Gansa tells Deadline. "However, as Homeland always strives to be subversive in its own right and a stimulus for conversation, we can’t help but admire this act of artistic sabotage."