Shows like Bodyguard perpetuate Muslim stereotypes. We created the Riz Test to show how dire representation is

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Films and television programmes are powerful mediums that are often taken for granted. They are major sources of entertainment and escapism, as well as often offering educational commentary on society, informing us about ideas and cultures we aren’t familiar with. We are often excited to watch the latest blockbuster summer releases, but if you are Muslim, that excitement also comes with a dose of apprehension.

Muslims see time and time again how carelessly or intentionally film and television makers bandy around stereotypes about Muslim communities. The ways in which Muslims are represented in films and in television are shocking. And this is why we need the Riz Test.

The Riz Test is defined by five criteria: If the film stars at least one character who is identifiably Muslim (by ethnicity, language or clothing) – is the character…

1. Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of Islamist terrorism?

2. Presented as irrationally angry?

3. Presented as superstitious, culturally backwards or anti-modern?

4. Presented as a threat to a Western way of life?

5. If the character is male, is he presented as misogynistic? Or if female, is she presented as oppressed by her male counterparts? If the answer for any of the above is yes, then the film/show fails the test. Simple.

It should be easy for most films to pass, right? Wrong.

FULL ARTICLE FROM METRO.CO.UK (UK) 

 

 

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Cartoon row sought to rile Dutch Muslims, but found only dignity

4326Geert Wilders’ fearmongering in the Netherlands failed against a greater sense of humanity

Like many Pakistani Muslims living in the Netherlands, Usman Firdausi was disturbed when the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders announced plans to hold a contest for cartoons caricaturing the prophet Muhammad.

Thousands of miles away in Pakistan, more than 10,000 people demonstrated against the contest in a march organised by Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik, which also called on Pakistan and other Islamist countries to sever ties with the Netherlands.

Labaik’s leader said he would “remove Holland from the face of the earth” if he had an atom bomb. On Wednesday, Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of threatening to attack Wilders. On Thursday night, the politician announced he was calling off the competition because he said the risks of attacks on the Netherlands were too great.

Images of the prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam and caricatures are considered blasphemous.

“It’s easy to spread hate but the best response is dignity,” Firdausi said at his family’s grocery store in The Hague’s ethnically diverse Transvaal neighbourhood. “We are a minority here, we can’t break rules, or hold disruptive protests … We have to live here as Muslims but also as peaceful citizens.”

Firdausi’s sentiments reflected the nuanced take of over a dozen Pakistani Muslims interviewed in The Hague, pulled between raw anger and national, secular loyalties.

Muslims make up about 6% of the population of the Netherlands, according to the statistics bureau, and of these, only about 50,000 are from Pakistan.

Many Pakistani Muslims said religious prejudice was on the rise in the Netherlands in response to Muslim immigration and growing fears of terrorism in Europe. They said the spectre of the “Islamisation of the Netherlands” was being manipulated by politicians like Wilders who feared Dutch traditions were being obliterated.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK) 

American Kids Are Learning Islamophobia From Their Textbooks

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Donald Trump’s travel ban, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, is wreaking havoc on Muslim families, forcing some Americans to leave the United States for countries in the midst of devastating wars in order to reunite with loved ones. The resilience ― and, among some Americans, popularity ― of the travel ban is emblematic of how enshrined Islamophobia has become in American culture. Even our highest court of justice has endorsed a discriminatory law rooted in misconceptions about the instability, oppression and violence of the Middle East and Islamic faith.

While many people blame these persistent misconceptions on mass-media depictions of Arabs and Muslims, that’s not where they begin. We need to examine the pervasiveness of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim information in the American education system ― and, in particular, in textbooks.

Most Americans’ exposure to the Middle East and Islam starts with what they learn in high school history class. World history textbooks in the United States only allocate around 3 percent of space to discussions of these topics. And the story those textbooks tell in that limited space is a disturbing one. My research on world history textbooks used across the country finds that sections about Islam and the Middle East advance a “rise and fall” narrative. That story goes like this: In the medieval period, the Middle East was a flourishing and advanced civilization, but due to an inability to modernize, the region has subsequently declined into chaos, oppression and violence. This sensationalized version of history reduces the region to a bygone society and fails to account for the vibrant and dynamic contemporary reality of the Middle East.

 

American Islamophobia’s fake facts

anti-mosque-racism-protest_usa_300515-2Anti-Muslim activists in the United States were operating in a “post-truth era” and putting out “alternative facts” long before those phrases entered the language. For the last decade they have been spreading provable falsehoods through their well-organized network of publications and websites.

A major theme of those falsehoods is telling the U.S. public that Islam is inherently dangerous and that American Muslims, even if they do not embrace extremist religious beliefs or violent actions, are still a threat to national security. To back up that conclusion, the well-funded Islamophobia publicity machine incessantly repeats two specific assertions.

The first is that Muslims in this country have been engaged in a “stealth” or “civilizational jihad” — a long-term, far-reaching conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. legal system and other public institutions and bring America under Islamic law. The companion claim is that mainstream Muslim-American organizations are effectively “fronts” for the Muslim Brotherhood and so secretly controlled by international terrorists. In fact, the Brotherhood has not been designated as a terror organization by the U.S. government, and there are not the slightest grounds for thinking it, or any other secret force, controls any national Muslim-American group.

The Islamophobes offer only two pieces of supporting “evidence,” one for each of those claims. Exhibit A is a document falsely called the Brotherhood’s “master plan” for the clandestine effort to establish Muslim dominance in the United States. Exhibit B is a list of several hundred “unindicted co-conspirators,” including the Council on American Islamic Relations and other mainstream national Muslim organizations, that federal prosecutors put into the record during a 2007 terrorism-financing trial in Texas.

If you look at the exhibits themselves, instead of the descriptions of them by anti-Muslim groups, it’s obvious that neither is what the Islamophobes say it is or proves what they allege it proves.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SALON.COM

Modern view of Crusades as a clash between Islam and Christianity ignores stories of co-existence

ungjfxrcbj-1531489362What if the Crusades’ history was told from an Arab perspective? In fact, in 2016 al-Jazeera TV did just that. It released a four-episode documentary on the Crusades, and the trailer introduced the subject in the following words:

“In the history of conflict between East and West. The mightiest battle between Christianity and Islam; a holy war in the name of religion. For the first time, the story of the Crusades from an Arab perspective.”

It is clear that the producers of the al-Jazeera documentary wanted their viewers to understand the Crusades as one out of many episodes in the continuous clash between two civilisations: East/Islam and West/Christianity.

The al-Jazeera documentary was inspired by two earlier widely watched documentaries: The Crusades: Crescent and the Cross (History Channel, 2005) and The Crusades (BBC, 2012).

All three documentaries share the same plot about the clash of civilisations fuelled by the religious ideologies of holy war and jihad. The only difference is that the al-Jazeera documentary alleges to tell the story of the Crusades “for the first time” from an Arab perspective, which actually means that it is the turn of the Muslim Arabs to tell, not a different story, but rather the same story of the clash of civilisations.

Crusaders as Christian barbarians

Actually, this is not the first time Muslims have told their story of the Crusades, and the story has changed over time. In the Muslim public imagination of today, the crusaders are remembered as medieval Christian barbarians who assaulted the Muslim world and slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent people before the Muslims could mount an effective jihad campaign to drive them away. They are also seen as medieval ancestors of modern Western colonialists and imperialists.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SCROLL (INDIA)

America’s real Muslim problem is Islamophobia

There’s a common perception that Muslims pose a threat to the security of the U.S., but the real threat is to them

anti-mosque-racism-protest_usa_300515-2June 2018 was an especially bad month for the status of Muslims in America. First, we learned that a new study showed that many Americans view Muslims in the United States as insufficiently “American,” and almost 20 percent would deny Muslim citizens the right to vote. Then, the Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s decision to institute a ban on immigrants, refugees and visa holders from five majority-Muslim countries in a 5-4 decision.

The synergy of these two pieces of information is critical because it reveals a common attitude that Muslims pose a threat to U.S. security whether they are U.S. citizens or not. And while these attitudes do break down heavily across party lines, it is noteworthy that the study of U.S. perceptions of Muslim Americans conducted by Dalia Mogahed and John Sides for the Voter Study Group indicated that even 12 percent of Democrats would consider denying Muslim citizens the right to vote. Their study also showed that 32 percent of Democrats favor targeting Muslims at U.S. airport screenings to ensure the safety of flights. That figure compares with 75 percent of Republicans.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority SCOTUS opinion upholding the travel ban. He emphasized that, despite ample evidence of President Donald Trump’s animus towards the Muslim community, the ban was a security issue and not an example of discrimination, “Because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM SALON 

An anti-Muslim narrative has shaped policy for decades. The travel ban will make it worse.

no ban 1The Supreme Court of the United States yesterday upheld President Donald Trump’s decision to institute a ban on immigrants, refugees, and visa holders from five majority-Muslim countries yesterday in a 5-4 decision.

The ruling did not come as a surprise to me.

I’m a lawyer, educator, and Muslim woman who focuses on racial justice. My work is all about interrupting the process of dehumanization that leads to crimes against humanity on marginalized groups. I’m devastated about the Supreme Court’s decision, but we saw this coming.

I often hear good-hearted people say that certain incidents are “un-American” or don’t represent “their America.” But suggesting this ban is unique erases our nation’s ugly history of anti-Muslim sentiment, one that sits within a larger picture of systematic racism against many other groups.

The “travel ban” — a term that sanitizes what is in fact a Muslim ban — is the latest in a series of policies that have targeted Muslims inaccurately seen as agents, or agents-in-waiting, of a dangerous foreign “ideology” that needs to be eradicated. These anti-Muslim narratives are sponsored by a million-dollar industry, pushing rhetoric like the takeover of “sharia law” in America through “think tanks” like the Center for Security Policy that provide fodder for conservative commentators like Newt Gingrich.

Islamophobia is not simply interpersonal hatred or fear. It is a system of bigotry that identifies and targets those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim, no matter what their race or country of national origin.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOX