There are barely any Muslims on popular TV series, a new study says

Archie Panjabi at the Emmy Awards in 2010. Panjabi, a non-Muslim actress, played a Muslim character in the 2018 British limited series Next of Kin, a show discussed in a new study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Muslims make up 25% of the global population and Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world — but Muslims only comprise 1% of characters shown on popular televisions series in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

Those are just two of the findings in a new report issued Wednesday by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Researchers investigated 200 top-rated television shows from 2018 and 2019 that aired in these four countries, and surveyed 8,885 characters with speaking roles.

Apart from the numbers deficit, the majority of the Muslim characters were depicted as adult Middle Eastern or North African [MENA] men, despite the fact that Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the world. These characters were also linked to violent acts and behavior. Over 30% of the 98 Muslim characters were perpetrators of violence, while nearly 40% were targets of such attacks. Less than one-third were portrayed as native English speakers, underscoring depictions of Muslims as “foreigners.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

Millions of Muslims observe Eid al-Adha amid high prices

Worshippers attend prayers marking the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha in Attecoube, an area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast July 9, 2022. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

MINA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Millions of Muslims across the globe — including in countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Kenya and Yemen — were celebrating Eid al-Adha on Saturday, one of the biggest holidays of the Islamic calendar.

Known as the “Feast of Sacrifice,” the revered observance coincides with the final rites of the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia. It’s a joyous occasion, for which food is a hallmark. Much of Asia, including Indonesia, India and Pakistan, will observe the holiday on Sunday.

But as Russia’s war in Ukraine sends food prices soaring and causes widespread hardship across the Middle East, many say they can’t afford the livestock for the ritual sacrifice. Desperation over the cost of living has undercut the typically booming holiday trade in goats, cows and sheep.

“Everyone wants to sacrifice an animal in the name of Allah, but they are not able to do so because they’re poor,” said Mohammad Nadir from a cattle market in Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan, where a few men haggled over bleating sheep.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic tale of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Before he could carry out the sacrifice, God provided a ram as an offering. In the Christian and Jewish telling, Abraham is ordered to kill another son, Isaac.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PBS

New Initiative Aims to Change How Movies Portray Muslims

An advocacy group has created a worker database with help from Disney to bring more Muslims into the filmmaking process.

A scene from “Ali’s Wedding” (2017), which was cited in a report about Muslims in movies as having “the only present-day Muslim lead.”Credit…Netflix

A new initiative to promote the inclusion of Muslims in filmmaking has been created by an advocacy group with the support of the Walt Disney Company — following a report issued this year that found that Muslims are rarely depicted in popular films and that many Muslim characters are linked to violence.

The project, the Pillars Muslim Artist Database, was announced on Tuesday by the Pillars Fund, an advocacy group in Chicago. It produced the earlier report on depiction along with the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and others.

Kashif Shaikh, a co-founder of Pillars and its president, said that when the group discussed the findings, those in the industry often said they did not know where to find Muslim writers or actors.

The database, Shaikh said, aims to give Muslim actors, directors, cinematographers, sound technicians and others, who could help create more nuanced portrayals, the chance to compose online profiles that can be reviewed by those hiring for film, television and streaming productions.

That way, “Muslims around the country would be able to opt in and talk about their talents, talk about their expertise,” Shaikh said. “It was really meant to be a resource for studios, for the film industry.”

The report on depiction, “Missing & Maligned,” was issued in June and analyzed 200 top-grossing movies released between 2017 and 2019 across the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

Opinion: To save Muslim lives, let Muslims tell their own stories

A police officer stands guard in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday, March 17, 2019, where one of two mass shootings occurred. New Zealand’s stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighborhoods and around the country on Saturday, to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left dozens of people dead. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa is an Islamic cleric and the secretary general of the Muslim World League.

This month, a Canadian Muslim family was nearly wiped out after four members were killed in an Islamophobic terror attack, while the fifth — a 9-year-old boy — was left with serious injuries. This came two years after a gunman murdered 51 Muslims on the other side of the world, at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the face of such mindless hate, many are asking what more can be done to save Muslim lives.

One way forward begins simply: Let Muslims tell their own stories.

Muslims often do not have agency over even their most traumatic stories. Earlier this month, a film called “They Are Us” was announced, starring Rose Byrne as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The film focuses not on the murdered Muslims and their bereaved families, but on Ardern’s experience of the terror attacks. Even when portraying the worst instance of Western Islamophobia in years, Muslims are reduced (at best) supporting roles. The film was denounced by Ardern herself, who said her story is “not the one to be told.”

The chronic underrepresentation of Muslims in Hollywood and other Western media cannot be separated from the widespread bigotry faced by many members of our faith. This year, Islamophobia — which is not just the fear and hatred of Islam but also includes anti-Muslim discrimination and violence — reached “epidemic proportions.” The United Nations reported that nearly 1 in 3 Americans, and an even higher percentage of Europeans, view Muslims negatively.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Actor Riz Ahmed wants to stop Hollywood’s ‘toxic portrayals’ of Muslims

British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed has launched a fund to help combat “toxic portrayals” of Muslims in films.

The move comes after a study showed Muslims rarely appear on screen, or are shown in a negative light if they do.

Earlier this year, the Sound of Metal star became the first Muslim to be nominated for best actor at the Oscars.

Ahmed, who is also known for Rogue One and The Night Of, said: “The problem with Muslim misrepresentation is one that can’t be ignored any more.”

In an online video, he said his history-making Oscar nomination was a “bittersweet” moment.

‘Unwritten rule’

“I simultaneously wore that slightly dubious accolade with a sense of gratitude personally… I also felt tremendous sadness.

“How was it that out of 1.6 billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – none of us had ever been in this position until now?

“I asked myself, if I’m the exception to the rule, what must the rule be about people like me? What must the unwritten rule be about Muslims – a quarter of the world’s population – and their place in our stories, our culture and their place in our society, if any?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM BBC

France should mobilize rather than marginalize its Muslims

The egalitarian principles of the French republic would suggest that the state is blind to the creeds and private beliefs of its citizens. For the most part, this is correct. Its very particular brand of state-endorsed secularism projects a certain veneer of a republic to which all its citizens have an equal right. However, for France’s second-largest religious group, its Muslims, this blanket equality falls short. Decades of marginalization have characterized their experience, but since the government embarked on a struggle against what it calls “Islamist separatism,” many French Muslims feel that the xenophobia and discrimination they face has become mainstream.


The “laicite” (secularism) with which French policymakers are so obsessed mandates strict delineation between the state and the private sphere of personal beliefs. This wall between the two was originally meant to protect citizens from the intrusion of the state and the state from religious influence, which frequently raised its head throughout the country’s history. This arrangement has, however, come increasingly unstuck as the state seems to be involving itself more and more in the lives of its Muslim citizens.


For decades now, French presidents have stuck their noses into Islamic dress codes, dietary needs, and the plethora of religious institutions and places of worship modern France is home to. With an aging population struggling to cope with the societal transitions of post-imperial France, French leaders have sought to focus on the country’s Muslims as an electoral scapegoat in lieu of making the bold structural changes that are so desperately needed.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS

Christians, Muslims again top list of faiths facing hostility worldwide

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Christians top the list for countries where they face either governmental or social hostility, according to a new report issued Nov. 10 by the Pew Research Center.

Christians have topped the list each year since Pew started collecting data in 2007.

The number of countries where Christians face some form of hostility rose from 143 in 2017 to 145 in 2018, the latest year for which statistics are available. Christians were followed in order by Muslims, Jews, “others,” folk religions, Hindus, Buddhists and the religiously unaffiliated.

Out of 198 nations studied, Christians faced government harassment in 124 countries, second to Muslims’ 126, and social harassment in 104 countries, one more than Muslims’ at 103. In some nations, both governments and private groups place restrictions on religious adherents.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC REVIEW

Islam for children: themed books and crafts are all the rage among modern Muslim parents

My toddler’s favourite toys include a mobile phone that plays the (frankly nauseating) track Baby Shark and an interactive Dora the Explorer book. She’s learning her ABCs, but eventually I’d like for her to learn the Arabic alphabet – the foundation of the Quran. And while she toddles around my prayer mat and babbles something that vaguely sounds like “Bismillah,” I’m eager for her to grasp the meaning of the word.

Islamic education should be on a par with everything else that children are learning. It should be joyful and engaging

So when I came across a colourful image on Instagram of The Bismillah Book for children – an under-the-sea-themed sing-a-long publication – I was intrigued. Evidently, I’m not the first parent to search for accessible tools that will help teach the values and pillars of my faith to my child. It turns out that a number of UAE entrepreneurs are at the forefront of a burgeoning books and activities market centred on making Islam relatable and enjoyable for young Muslims.

Islamic books and crafts for children

“The need of the hour definitely points towards value-based content based on a spiritual upbringing,” Mehnaz Anshah, co-founder of Bismillah Buddies, which produced The Bismillah Book, tells The National. “We’ve found a great community of like-minded parents who share our concerns regarding the future of our children and the world they are growing up in.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL.AE

He Loved Muslims Because He Loved Jesus. The Bible Showed Him How.

Remembering the pilgrimage and legacy of Rick Love, who founded Peace Catalyst after years as international director of Frontiers.

ck Love loved Jesus above all else. He loved the Bible as God’s Word.

Rick’s love for Jesus led him to love Muslims. But his love for Scripture eventually changed his mind about how to love Muslims.

Rick, who passed away on December 29, did not always love Jesus. In a candid confession in his book, Glocal: Following Jesus in the 21st Century, Rick describes how in his youth he “embraced the ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ lifestyle of the sixties.” After partying through the night of his 18th birthday, he woke up in the morning thinking, “There has to be more to life than this, and I’m going to find it.” It was of the 1970s Jesus Movement he would later write, “I encountered Jesus, and my life radically changed.”

From the start, Rick’s faith was all about following Jesus, which he distinguished from the cultural trappings associated with “Christianity” and traditional ways of “doing church.” It was certainly not about a heretical fusion of Christianity with American nationalism, that he believed has tragically damaged the witness of American Christians.

The other element at the heart of Rick’s faith was the authority of Scripture. Not content with merely upholding inerrancy as an abstract doctrine, he would steep himself daily in the biblical text, allowing it to guide his life. His wife Fran describes how day after day she witnessed Rick holding up his hands in prayer and worship as he studied the Bible.

From Scripture, Rick understood early on that God cared about all nations and cultures. This moved him to care about Muslims. For decades, he assumed this meant he should become a missionary in the traditional sense. He and Fran went to Indonesia to serve Jesus. Later Rick was asked to lead Frontiers—one of the largest evangelical organizations worldwide dedicated to reaching out to Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Scapegoating Muslims

A Religious Studies student brought a dish to her mother at work one day. She and a friend had been visiting a local mosque. The dish consisted of goat meat, rice, and cheese. Everyone working the shift that night sampled it. We all agreed it was delicious. She talked about how hospitable the Muslim community was. She and her friend had a good experience and intended to return.

When Was This?

This took place during the year 1997.  Up till then, most of us had negative views about Islam and Muslim countries. All of us were old enough to remember the hostage crisis involving the US embassy in Iran. We remembered the 1991 Gulf War. We forgot that most Muslim countries were allied with the US. The first attempt on the World Trade Center had been made in 1993. And some of our coworkers remembered the Black Muslim movement.

We knew the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) kept raising the price of oil causing gas prices to soar. Since we lived in the southeastern US, we heard about how Israel was always under threat from “Arabs.” We knew very little if anything about Arab Christians.

The 1995 bombing was first blamed on “Islamic terrorists” before it was learned that it was done by neo-Nazi terrorists. The primary suspect Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran. He murdered 168 people.

A Convenient Scapegoat

September 11, 2001 brought about more scapegoating of Muslims. President George W. Bush attempted to differentiate between “radical Muslims” such as Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda network and Muslims who wanted nothing to do with such groups. And then in 2003, President Bush initiated the War with Iraq as an extension of “The War on Terror.” All of his attempts to differentiate between Muslims evaporated in people’s minds.

Muslims are a minority in America. Islamic culture is definitely foreign. European history is rife with stories of conflicts with Muslims. The Song of Roland begins with a description of Muslim leaders in Spain as the real enemy. Muslims have played the role of “the other” in the minds of Americans due to this heritage from Europe.

Government officials try to make distinctions between Muslims that are neighbors and Muslims that are enemies. It is not working. The reason for that is very simple. The problem is fundamentalist Christianity.

Scapegoat Theology

The scapegoat is the person who takes the blame but doesn’t deserve it. In our usage it is synonymous with the “fall guy” in scandals. Leviticus 16 mandates a dual sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. Two goats are chosen. One is slaughtered as a “sin offering.” The next goat is the sins of the people and driven into the wilderness “for Azazel.” The latter is called “the scapegoat” in early English translations of the Bible.https://9f3de2b157f5773035d07814e8d39e24.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlDriving the animal into the wilderness is supposed to be mean it has no place in the community. By being run off, the goat takes the sins away. What’s more is the goat doesn’t belong to the community either.

Fundamentalist Christianity looks for a clearly defined manifestation of the Enemy (Satan). It developed looking for enemies. There were no shortages of enemies. Evolution, Communism, Labor Unions, Feminism, Women Suffragists, and alcoholic beverages took their places in Hell’s kingdom. Why is Islam viewed as an enemy?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS