Degrassi is known to be the show that draws every issue that a high school student encounters. Where it could be from gay acceptance, gang culture to steroid use. Anyone from any group or class could relate to issues talk in the show.
Last season, on a new series of the franchise called Degrassi: Next Class, it showed the students challenging issues that notable social justice warriors are fighting like equality and racism. This season however, had a different take.
Though most of the season showed issues tackling Islamophobia and racism such as an episode where a man ripped off a student’s hijab after calling her out for being just like those Muslims who caused the bomb attack in Brussels. It really explains why events like this cause censorship. In the fifth episode of the season called #Preach, Saad played by Parham Rownaghi was caught in the battle of the left’s agenda after a terrorist attack.
Saad is a new student at Degrassi who came from Syria as a refugee. He does not talk a lot but seems to be that person who at first may look sketchy but really he is just your typical foreign boy who just wants to take great photos.
After the terrorist attack in Belgium, and in an incident where a man ripped the hijab off Goldi Nahir played by Soma Bhatia, Goldi decided to spread awareness by having the MSA (Muslim Students Association) create shirts to show solidarity towards Belgium. Goldi explained to Saad and his sister when walking into school seeing her pass the shirts around that the MSA is to create safe relations for the Islamic community in the school. She said to wear it for a rally she is organizing. Saad’s sister thought it was cool but Saad did not look very happy.
During the middle of the episode, Hunter and Vjay played by Spencer MacPherson and Dante Scott asked Saad why he doesn’t have a shirt. Saad lied and said he did not receive one. Vjay told him he can have this extra shirt that he took for a friend, but Saad refused to wear it.
He then said that terrorist attacks happen everyday and the results are that people die. The boys assumed then that maybe it’s because he is pro-terrorism, which then angered Saad. Saad then spoke in Arabic while throwing the shirt in the garbage can.
Someone filmed that incident it and Goldi saw it. She then told Saad that the MSA believes Saad should apologize at the upcoming rally. Saad does not believe what he did was wrong and also that he was bullied. Goldi doesn’t think he was and said she hopes Saad can understand and gives him the shirt.
After talking to a friend from back home, Saad is confronted by Lola played by Amanda Arcuri. She said he made good points in the video because she end up using google to translate his words in the video. Saad then explains to her what happened in Syria and how his village was bombed. He later explains that his school, house, farm and friends were all gone because of these attacks. He said that these attacks happen all over the world and he is not going to wear a shirt and not wear another. He believes this only happens in these major cities, but when it’s places like Syria, nothing happens. Lola then shares her story coming as an immigrant. She then tells Saad he should tell his story at the rally.
At the rally, before he was going to tell his story, Saad explained that he believes the shirt is just a political statement. He then says that people are dying and that one country should not deserve more sympathy than the other. The crowd starts to get really frustrated and respond saying he does not know what he is saying. He then tells to crowd to don’t stand in ignorance but then suddenly, the mic cuts him off concluding his speech.
Now here is the weird thing…I don’t agree with Saad. Yes, I do believe that other countries are dealing with terrorism everyday. But the attack they are dealing is in Belgium, a country with citizens who don’t deal with terrorism every week. It’s something new. It’s not normal to them.
But I will let him speak. He is someone from a country that has seen terrorism in his village. Why should I criticize someone who has actually experienced their school getting blown up when I can go to school safely without feeling like it will get blown up?
He came to a country where he is allowed to criticize but in the end, he gets censored. This really made me realize that even a refugee can get censored by the left unless their speech fits with the left’s narratives.
This is not the first time Degrassi has showed a story where a character breaks the liberal narrative. One story shows a girl at her deceased boyfriend’s memorial saying his suicide was stupid and he was selfish. Also saying this is no one’s fault for his death. This defeats the liberal narrative that we should show blame ourselves for someone else’s suicide.
The season has concluded, and although it ends with Saad being accepted by his peers, Free Speech being debated in Degrassi will definitely be an upcoming issue in the next season of the series.
Will we see the newly graduates battling to defend Free Speech in the college/university campuses? Will Saad be challenged that his free speech is hate speech? Guess we will have to see next year if the network wants another season of Degrassi: Next Class.