London (ANI): Popular BBC show 'EastEnders' is set to tackle the storyline of a Muslim man embarking upon a gay love affair. Newcomer Syed Masood, played by Marc Elliott, will fall for openly gay man Christian Clarke (John Partridge) and the pair will share an on-screen kiss.
The plot is expected to hit TV screens from next month. "I think EastEnders would be doing the programme a disservice if they didn't give a voice to various communities," The BBC quoted Elliot as saying. "I think that's really important because I think London is a very ethnically diverse multicultural place, and EastEnders has a job to reflect that in the storylines it gives people and the characters they have on board," he added.
Meanwhile, mother Zainab Masood, played by Nina Wadia, is trying to set him up with various women from "good families". But Asghar Bokhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee has condemned the plot. "The Muslim community deserves a character that represents them to the wider public because Islamophobia is so great right now," he said. "There's a lack of understanding of Muslims already and I think EastEnders really lost an opportunity to present a normal friendly Muslim character to the British public," he added.
However, show's executive producer Diedrick Santer said it was important to tackle issues reflecting real life. "It's really important that on EastEnders we give the Masoods big stories," Santer said. "Sometimes there's a danger of being too careful with black or Asian characters that we might go into territories that might offend.
"But it seems to me if we steer away from any controversy, they don't stand a chance of being a great EastEnders family - they'll just be in their kitchen unit making curries for years and years and that's not going to be very interesting," Santer added.