TV Review: Britz



The war on terrorism has produced mixed emotions and unintended hostilities outside and within Muslim on the London subway communities in western democracies. Divisions run particularly deep in the U.K., which suffered a terrorist attack on its transit system in 2005 carried out by homegrown Islamic extremists.

Peter Kosminsky's demonstrates the fierce clash of opinions in "Britz," which he wrote and directed, a two-part, five-hour drama that reflects today's headlines.

Kosminsky recognizes that Muslims are not of one mind. Some are grateful to the U.K. and other democracies for offering sanctuary and giving them freedom and opportunities denied to them in their native lands.

Others, however, see themselves as second-class citizens, scorned for their religious practices and their political views. To them, the war on terror is a war on Islam. As such, they feel a sacred duty to respond with their own war on the infidels, even their own countrymen. Particularly their own countrymen.

So we have Sohail Wahdi (Riz Ahmed), born in the U.K. of Pakistani parents, whose gratitude and loyalty to Britain moves him to join the MI5, the U.K. version of the CIA. And we also have his sister, Nasima (Manjinder Virk), a medical student who increasingly, and sometimes inexplicably, is drawn to the terrorist camp. Sohail's story is told on Sunday; Nasima's on Monday. There is surprisingly little overlap but, when it occurs, the result is surprising.

The first part is superior to the second. Ahmed makes Sohail sympathetic but acutely aware of the slights endured by the Islamic community. In Virk's case, her hard work is sabotaged by a story line that taxes credulity. The Nasima we meet early on is, philosophically and psychologically, unlike the Nasima we see later.

Despite some logical inconsistencies, Kosminsky does a great service by increasing our understanding of a complex issue that will be with us for quite some time.