What do you think about media protrayals of Muslims?

What do you think about media protrayals of Muslims?


what do you think about the media protrayal of muslims? do you get angry when you see it? especially since these are the same movies getting golden globes.

Salaam alykum,

It’s so terrible that I’m like, “meh” about it.

I’d like to change it, it’s just a shame that the people who make movies about Muslims, when they are Muslims themselves, are sell-outs, like that Taqwacore movie, I really didn’t like that, I thought it was highly problematic.

It’s just annoying because in film Muslims can only be sexually repressed or violent, and usually both.

We don’t have feelings, we are slaves to these desires that we need to be quenched and shunning Islam is the only way we can, so we can dance to the tune set by those who do not care to learn about us.

I’m also tired of exploring the impact of terrorism on our lives, because it makes it seem like we lived in this Utopian state prior to 9/11, it ignores the prejudice that we went through before that, and furthermore, it cheapens our existence to being a cause to support by self-styled liberals in the West who can claim to have a Muslim friend, it’s all just tiring.

I just think the commentary surrounding the film Kingdom of Heaven was interesting. When it’s the West, ohhh just historical fiction, but if you portray Muslims in a positive light, and I’m quoting now, you’re going to “fuel the Islamic fundamentalists.“

Even in films like Lawrence of Arabia there is this fictionalized depiction of the Arab as a backwards, noble savage type, that truly bothers me, and in this regard, Muslims are not unique, but the latent acceptance of this discourse by nearly the entire spectrum of thought in these matters is, and that’s what is disheartening.

I actually like the film Un Prophete, not due to its themes or in support of gangsters, but because the film simply created a character who was Arab, and I respected the director’s choice who said the film was aimed at “creating icons, images for people who don’t have images in movies, like the Arabs in France.”

Films are an underused tool in the Muslim world, we have plenty of dramas, soap operas, all sorts of garbage, but we don’t have films about our history or narrative, we seldom establish it. This is something I love about Japanese cinema, it has consciously imbued a deliberate construction, exploration, and criticism of their identity into their films, they have explored what it means to be them.

Take a look at Youssef Chahine’s film An-Nasr Salah Ad-Din, which is about the legendary Salah Ad-Din (Saladin), but his identity is as some Arab hero, who united with others based on his Arabness. This  is a joke, not only was Saladin a Kurd, but his openness to other people was rooted in his Islam, not in some allegiance to a nationalism he was not even a part of.

I say that not to denigrate Chahine’s work, but to underline the tremendous discrepancy between the work that explores Arab, Egyptian, and Muslim history and historical narratives, they are poor. To Chahine’s credit, his film Sira’ Fi al-Wadi is a masterpiece, and while it is a drama, it still explores issues of identity and class in Egypt, while also using a sophisticated display of cinematography.

However, very few films were able to establish and construct Muslim people’s own narrative, and while there are films like Teer Enta which is a great comedy, it still touches upon rather strong themes, as does Irhab wa Kebab,another great comedy, and so the exploration of the self and identity exists in Egypt (as that is what I know best) but we fail at being able to create a historical memory, a romantic vision of where we come from, and while on Tumblr bridle at these idealistic visions of the past and believe they are exempt from it, they partake in it as well, just from an “alternative” route that underlines various levels of indigenous authenticity and what not. So, functionally, we are all the same and not “above” this process, it is necessary for our identity.

A big part of the problem is that prejudice against Muslims is okay, and it seems it will continue to be this way, and while that is a tremendous issue, we also must recognize that we have not taken control of our own discourse, to the point we are alienated from it and think we must go outside of our traditions in order to hold onto it, when it really comes down to simply understanding it first.

I’m sorry this was a ramble, but I am very passionate about film and think it is a very important medium, hope this answered your question, insha Allah.

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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