Muslim Artists Perform to Break Stereotypes

November 12, 2013


For decades, Arab actors have been successful in Hollywood. Among the most successful are Omar Sharif, Tony Shalhoub, and F. Murray Abraham; the latter won an Academy Award for his role in Mozart. However Muslims, openly proclaiming their religion, are a minority in the U.S. population and an even smaller minority in the U.S. entertainment industry. Those who are breaking in are trying to use their talent to discredit negative stereotypes. Several showcased their work at a recent gathering of predominantly American Muslims in Los Angeles.

Dean Obeidallah is not just an American comedian.

“My ethnicity and my faith make me a little different than many other comedians,” said Obeidallah.

He is a Muslim with Palestinian roots, and says his identity has not created barriers for him. However, he also says that stereotypes of what he represents do exist in the U.S.

Obeidallah uses comedy to talk about misconceptions and about what it means to be Muslim. He has co-directed a comedy documentary on this theme called, The Muslims Are Coming! Obeidallah said he has received positive reviews from both Muslims and non-Muslims, but sometimes non-Muslims don’t know how to respond to his jokes.

American Muslim poet Amir Sulaiman points out that some Muslims feel uncomfortable listening to him perform.

“Some people they feel nervous. Some things I say are not politically correct. They’re not fashioned and perfected in a political kind of way. Some people will say we don’t want you to say this; we don’t want you to say that as a Muslim person. When you are an artist or a public figure, many times you automatically become a spokesperson for millions of people. All these people have different points of view and different way that they want to be portrayed, but every artist can’t be responsible for everyone,” said Sulaiman.


Voice of America:

Madonna and the Chains of Islam

July 7, 2013


Depicted with a facial veil made of steel. A Battle for Women or Marketing? Awaiting her New Project


After the cross, Madonna breaks down to the sound of metal. The latest provocation is likely to unleash a wave of protests more incendiary than those created by the burning of the Koran. But the material girl explains on Instagram: “The revolution of love is the game … Inshallah,” which in Arabic means “if God wills.”
The latest gossip would suggest that this will be the last project of the pop star. Not just a publicity stunt, which was launched on the eve of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting that begins on July 9.
Madonna, the artist has posted a picture of her face covered by a niqab (Islamic veil that covers the face of women) in steel mesh.
SADO MASO-ISLAMIC. The photo is part of a series that will be released soon in the magazine Harper’s Bazaar, in which Madonna performs with her teeth in gold and diamonds – the latest fad among the stars of Hollywood – while shaking the metal veil.

American Team Wears Hijab to Support Captain

HOLLYWOOD – Cheering up their Muslim teammate, a Floridian high school football team decided to don hijab before their season finale game to show solidarity with their Muslim captain who has been taunted repeatedly over her religious outfit.

“Everybody looked at us weird,” West Broward senior Marilyn Solorzano told Sun Sentinel website on Friday, April 20.

“I understand now everything she went through and how hard it must have been.

“We just wore it for one day, and we noticed the difference. It was hard to keep on. It kept falling and our heads got really hot. You have to give her [credit] for wearing it every day.”

Donning hijab in middle school, Irum Khan, 17-year-old captain of West Broward High flag football team, endured far more than the usual pre-teenage taunting.

Early during her first years of high school, some classmates called her a terrorist and cursed at her.

She had rocks thrown at her and was physically attacked more than once.

The idea to wear hijab by the whole team was praised by the team coach as showing solidarity that unites the players.

“We’ve been trying to stress that the team comes first. The team always comes first,” Matt Garris, the West Broward coach, told xx

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Hollywood Ignores East-West Exchange

At the Oscars last month the gap between what interests Hollywood and what the rest of the world seems to be doing was sharp and clear. Of the five nominees for the best foreign-language film, all but one, among them the winner, “In a Better World,” from Denmark, dealt in some way with relationships between the West and Islam.

So did many others of the 65 films offered for consideration by film academies around the globe, including the French, German, Dutch and Bulgarian submissions. In contrast, each of the nine American films that were nominated for best picture and eventually lost to “The King’s Speech” from Britain were inward looking, with purely domestic concerns — a characterization that can be applied to movies as different in style and substance as “The Social Network,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter” and “True Grit.”

But why isn’t the United States also part of that same emerging global cinematic conversation? Why isn’t Hollywood also making movies that grapple with the issues that are provoking filmmakers elsewhere? And when Arab and Muslim characters do appear on screen, why are they presented in such simplistic and stereotyped ways?

In American cinema, “We see everything through American eyes, without context or a representation of community” on the Islamic side, said Matthew Bernstein, an editor of the book “Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film” and chairman of the film and media studies department at Emory University in Atlanta.

Muslims seek change in their Hollywood story

After years of watching Muslims portrayed as terrorists in mainstream TV and movies, an advocacy group hopes to change that image by grooming a crop of aspiring Muslim screenwriters who can bring their stories – and perspective – to Hollywood.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council is hosting a series of workshops taught by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated veterans over the next month, an initiative that builds on the group’s outreach for a more representative picture of Muslim-Americans on the screen.

MPAC dubbed its effort the Hollywood Bureau, while Unity Productions Foundation recently started a similar project called Muslims on Screen and Television. Other nonprofit arts foundations, such as the Levantine Cultural Center and Film Independent, have joined forces by planning networking events for Muslim actors and training and mentoring young filmmakers.

“The idea is to really give Muslims an avenue to tell our stories. It’s as simple as that. There’s a curiosity about Islam and a curiosity about who Muslims are – and a lot of the fear that we’re seeing comes from only hearing one story or these constant negative stories,” said Deana Nassar, MPAC’s Hollywood liaison.

German entertainment TV marks Ramadan fasting times

11 August 2010

The private German TV station RTL 2, usually providing mass
entertainment, announces the times of sunrise and sunset during the
month of Ramadan. Hosting shows like Big Brother and small-scale
Hollywood movies, the station’s slogan is “It’s fun”. Unexpectedly, the
marketing directors have now decided to “send out a signal” for
integration and to mark the fasting periods. The unprecedented move was
welcomed by the Central Council of Muslims.

CAIR: sinister Muslim stereotype fades

Muslim voices are finally being heard by and from Hollywood, and it’s in Tinseltown’s best interest to listen.

Negative stereotypes of Muslim characters date to at least the black-and-white era, but by the 1990s and the end of the Cold War, one-dimensional Muslim terrorist characters were the generic “bad guy” in countless movies and television shows. Nearly a decade later, Hollywood seems to be changing its tune toward Muslims and Arabs.

Note: Parts of this summary were taken directly from the USA Today blog post.

MPAC recognizes “voices of courage and conscience” in Hollywood, media

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) awarded the Emmy-Award winning television show, “The Simpsons,” with its first MPAC Media Award this past April 25th. Animation director Steven Dean Moore accepted the award on behalf of “The Simpsons” production team, over the episode titled “Mypods and Broomsticks” which features a Muslim-American family new to Springfield. Many stereotypes about Muslims were presented and debunked in the show, which ultimately helped the show’s patriarch, Homer, to realize that Muslim-Americans were very similar to other Americans. “I hoped to humanize them,” Moore told IFN referring to the Muslim characters, adding that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the recognition. During the MPAC awards reception, Amy Goodman, founder and producer of the internationally-syndicated radio show “Democracy Now!” was also applauded. The ceremony, held in Los Angeles, California, was held to applaud and “recognize voices of courage and conscience.”

Critics accuse Hollywood of vilifying Arabs

American films and TV programs post September 11th have reinforced screen images of Muslims and Arabs as fanatics and villains, argues author Jack Shaheen. Shaheen, in his book Guilty — Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11, praises some post Sept. 11th films for offering more sympathetic images of Muslims and Arabs, but argues that much work is needed in the industry to change the Hollywood castigation of them for decades. Shaheen claims that across all genres of film – from action, to children’s movies, to romantic comedies, that the film industry has perpetuated damaging stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims. […] The images have remained primarily fixed and have only been changed in the sense that they have become more vindictive and damaging.” Shaheen says that there is no authority, or political leader, or Hollywood personalities that have taken a stand, and that this kind of castigation is no different than demonizing Jews or blacks or Asians or any other racial or ethnic group.