Bobby Beale converts to Islam as EastEnders 'challenges preconceptions' of Muslim faith
The BBC1 soap is working with the Muslim Youth Helpline on a storyline about the teen exploring his newfound faith as he finds peace after prison.
EastEnders' Bobby Beale (Clay Milner Russell) will explore the Islamic faith as he adapts to life on the outside after being jailed for murdering his sister – and the soap is working closely with the Muslim Youth Helpline to portray the positive impact of religion on the troubled teenager.
Thursday 11th July's episode showed Bobby meeting with his friend Imran, who he first met in the young offenders' institute in which he was placed in 2016 after admitting to killing older sibling Lucy Beale and attacking adoptive mum Jane Beale.
Offering support to Bobby as he described how hard it’s been to cope since his release, concerned Imran handed him a package which the Beale boy later unwrapped at home and was revealed to be a copy of religious text the Qur'an.
In the coming weeks, Bobby starts to make peace with his violent past and deal with the difficulty of integrating back into the family and community by exploring his newfound faith.
The character will face more challenges as a result of his aggressive actions, but is also set to find support and encouragement from some quarters.
Speaking about the storyline, Executive Producer Jon Sen said: 'We are thrilled to be working with support service Muslim Youth Helpline to challenge preconceptions and prejudices about the role of faith in young people’s lives.
'Bobby’s story will show how a young boy uses to religion to help find peace and give his life meaning, structure and purpose. We hope to demonstrate the positive impact of religion in modern society.'
Zohra Khaku, Director of the Muslim Youth Helpline, commented: 'Our organisation has been providing feedback on Bobby's storyline with the EastEnders team. In a time where young British Muslims see their faith overwhelmingly represented in a negative way, it is heartening to see Islam portrayed as a positive influence in the character’s life.'
Author's comment: I can't wait for the episode where he becomes a suicide bomber. Perhaps we should wait until the BBC introduces some balance by being honest about the violent aspects of Islam. Don't hold your breath, though.