NBC’s ‘Transplant’ Makes Audiences Reevaluate Muslims in Lead Roles

TRANSPLANT — “The Only Way Out Is Through” Episode 113 — Pictured: Hamza Haq as Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed — (Photo by: Yan Turcotte/Sphere Media/CTV/NBC)

hmad Meree didn’t feel represented onscreen, especially in North America. The Syrian actor and playwright is one of several changing the game with NBC and Sphere Media’s medical drama, “Transplant.” The series, which originally aired on Canada’s CTV, follows Syrian refugee Bashir Hamed (Hamza Haq) who comes to Canada and becomes an emergency room doctor.

“Transplant,” the recent honoree at the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Media Awards, has been a labor of love for its cast, series showrunner Joseph Kay, and production company Sphere Media. For executive producer Tara Woodbury, the series held a personal connection for her; her brother-in-law is a refugee who’d relocated to a new country. “I shared with him [Kay] a bit of my brother-in-law’s story and, at the same time, Canada was going through the process of trying to figure out how to help 40,000 Syrian refugees in a short amount of time,” Woodbury told IndieWire.

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For both Woodbury and Meree, there was a desire to change the perceptions of how Muslims, specifically Muslim men, were portrayed. Each mentioned that the depictions they had seen before tended to emphasize Muslim men as terrorists or religious zealots. The discussion of prayer, and how Bashir looks at religion, was a particular discussion topic for Meree when he was brought onto the show as a cultural consultant.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDIE WIRE

When it comes to negative stereotypes, I feel your pain — twice! | Opinion

As an American Muslim and a law-enforcement officer, I’ve been drawing scary parallels between the Muslim and law-enforcement communities after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard all Muslims being painted with a broad brush of criticism and condemnation when only one commits an act of terrorism. Some Americans say things such as: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim,” or “Muslims aren’t the problem, it’s the system of Islam,” or “Not enough Muslims speak out against terrorism.” The list goes on and on.

This type of rhetoric is the kind of inappropriate stereotyping that creates division and fear. Sometimes it’s based on pure bigotry. Muslim leaders often say, “There is a very small minority in the Muslim world that commits acts of terrorism,” or “Don’t blame all Muslims for the actions of a few,” or “Muslim leaders across the globe continuously condemn terrorism.”TOP

Besides verbal condemnation of the acts, there’s little or no systematic work done internally by the leadership of the Muslim community to deal with this deadly problem. This, of course, is a major grievance that continues to impact the entire globe which, in turn, fuels the negative stereotyping.

Muslims have reversed the negative stereotyping, and some leaders have started using the same rhetoric against law enforcement: “Police officers are racist.” “Police officers target the black community.” “You can’t say there are only a couple of bad cops. It’s the system that’s racist.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIAMI HERALD

Undoing Stereotypical Representations in Arab and Muslim Cinemas: Challenges, Interruptions, and Possibilities

3995455868_28104750a4_b-660x330Troubled by a history of misconceptions on Western silver screens, Arab and Muslim filmmakers have kept their cinematic productions thematically close to the reality of their postcolonial cultural and social conditions, while trying to represent their communities in complex ways. In many efforts of artistic excellence, the films they make aim to reverse the frisson of alterity upon which the conception of their disgraced images have been historically predicated; in the process, the films aspire to alter these images and representations. Rarely however does the work of these Arab and Muslim filmmakers reach a global audience. This article locates themes and creative forms in many cinematic narratives of representation, and recommends their interpretation and mediation to a global audience. The article responds to a recent “intellectual turn” in contemporary debate on Arab and Muslim films, calling for the invention of a category called “Muslim Cinema”. The article contextualizes this turn within the contours of Western institutions as sites of epistemological authority and examines its epistemological, racial, and ideological implications and underpinnings in connection to representation.

Introduction

Like most Third Cinemas’ post-independence era productions, Arab/Muslim films are known for the cultivation of a realist aesthetic and a commitment to national struggles and identity discourses. Historically, however, filmmakers in Arab and Muslim societies have addressed domestic issues and censored themes often considered too sensitive and beyond national meta-narratives. Civil wars, Shi’a/Sunni entanglements in proxy wars, religious fanaticism and terrorism, irregular migration, the heterogeneous composition which characterizes Arab and other identities in the region, gender politics, and the haunting verisimilitude of the Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation, have all been persistent themes for filmmakers and audiences. Never have these filmmakers been unified over a particular configuration of alterity, or collectively endorsed one specific representation of otherness in the same manner that Hollywood had their disfigured images molded and frozen over time as villains and terrorists. Aware that their identity has been “represented by others, mediated by Hollywood, Dan Rather, or The New York Times… [deploying misconceptions of] lazy Mexicans, shifty Arabs, savage Africans, and exotic Asiatics…” (Stam 1984: 51) on their movie screens, Arab/Muslim cinematic productions have been consistently exploring different strategies to speak for themselves.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB MEDIA AND SOCIETY 

Mosque open houses combat negative stereotypes of Muslims

920x920When the Bear Creek Islamic Center recently held an open house, more than 100 Christians and residents living near the mosque were able to pose questions about whether Islam considers Jesus a God, fosters terrorism and views women as a lesser gender.

“People live with opinions formed from sound bites,” said Kate Sunday, who is a Methodist and came with her husband. “We have dear Muslim friends who go to the mosque, and we wanted to experience what they experience. We differ when it comes to our prophet. But we are all children of God.”

GainPeace, a Chicago nonprofit established to promote better understanding of the Islamic faith, local mosques and other Islamic groups, has held more than 3,000 open houses during the past four years to combat negative stereotypes of Muslims and the Muslim faith.

Open houses have been held in nearly every major U.S. city, with a quarter of mosques holding at least one open house annually in recent years, said GainPeace executive director Sabeel Ahmed.

“We have felt that there are many barriers between Americans, and these barriers are giving rise to Islamophobia,” said Ahmed, a physician, who spoke at the Bear Creek Islamic Center open house. “This event helps us connect as humans. At the end of the day, we find that we have so many things in common.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE 

Marvel’s Muslim Teen Girl Superhero Challenges Stereotypes

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Alongside Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and the other superheroes of the Marvel Universe is Ms. Marvel… a shape-shifting teen-aged crusader for today’s diverse American society.

She may be a newbie in the world of Marvel superheros, but since she burst onto the comic book scene in February of 2014, Ms. Marvel has become a cultural phenomenon. She’s also the first Muslim superhero to have her own dedicated series.

“I love this comic because it is diverse, and it shows a side of America that I think comics don’t always show,” said DeeDee, a Ms. Marvel fan we met at a Huntington, New York comic book shop.

“She’s not only dealing with school sides of things, like the culture clashes, her parents want her to be more traditional,” said Lois Alison Young, a school teacher who is also a Ms. Marvel fan. “I guess it’s a big cliché but she’s really struggling because she wants to maintain her Muslim identity.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA 

I’m So Tired

cropped-capa-blogNote:  This is from a blog  I just discovered challenging stereotypes about Muslims and other minorities.    Good place to visit often. 

“What do you think of ISIS?” Smile. Be calm. Be gentle. “Don’t Muslims believe you’re supposed to kill Christians and Jews?” They don’t mean any harm. They don’t know any better. “Do you shower with that on?” Laugh. Take it in stride. “Does your husband make you wear it?” It’s ok. It’s just a question. “I’m not islamophobic. After all, I’m friends with you!” Smile, laugh. Be quiet. You have to give a good impression. You’re the token Muslim, whether you like it or not. These are my thoughts when my dignity is taken away.

It’s so tiring to always be representing 1.6 billion people from all over the world. As soon as people find out I’m Muslim, which generally is pretty quickly because I wear the hijab, they think they have the right to ask me invasive questions. Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about friends who ask sincere, curious questions hoping to learn more about me and my faith. I’m talking about random strangers who interrupt my meal in a restaurant to demand information in an accusatory tone. There is a huge difference between the two.

A good example of this is my friend K. She and I often have conversations about faith and culture. She asks a million questions, and they’re all sincere and respectful. She often reminds me that if I don’t feel comfortable answering, that’s ok. THAT is actually wonderful. She wants to understand me. I love answering her questions.

On the flip side, there’s an incident that happened yesterday. I went to a local gyro joint for a nice Arab meal. The cashier, who I later found out was the owner, asked me why I was wearing a headscarf. I told him I was Muslim. He said he was an Egyptian Christian. I said “Assalaamu alaikum,” and he said “wa alaikum salaam.” We exchanged smiles. I took my food and found a seat. I dug in. A few moments later he pulled a chair up to mine and my husband’s table. He started by asking me why I converted, and I gave him the condensed version of the story. He proceeded to tell me I didn’t understand Christian theology, I didn’t know God and couldn’t know Him or love Him. He told me that ISIS were Muslims, the Quran teaches violence, and Islam is a cult. I patiently gave him simple but logical refutations to his horrible comments. He went on and, during our entire meal.  My husband, I should add, stood up for me and told him off. But I knew I couldn’t say anything.

FULL BLOG FROM GENUINEGEMSWRITING 

10 Misconceptions About Islam That Muslim Americans Are Tired of Hearing

“Can you grab that bottle of Sriracha on the top shelf?” my mother asked, as we made our way down the “ethnic” aisle at our local grocery store. It was around 5:30pm, my father was almost home from work, and my mother and I were out getting last minute ingredients for dinner. As we waited in the checkout line, waiting to pay for our goods, I hear a voice behind me, “You here to steal something?”

I turn around to find a tall man, broad shoulders, a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead, looking straight at my mother. I stand there bewildered, wondering if this was an acquaintance of hers trying to be funny or make some sort of weird joke.

“Are you here to blow something up? Why are you wearing that?” he barks again, referring to my mother’s hijab and abaya. At this point, everyone within earshot tenses up and I find myself flooding with both embarrassment and panic. What was this guy trying to get at? We were just at the grocery store trying to get home on time, and this man, who we had never seen before, was going out of his way to harass my mother.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated incident. My mother, petite as she may be, has no problem holding her own and isn’t new to being singled out and hassled for her choice of Islamic clothing. She clearly and eloquently explained her religious garb to the man, told him to not yell at her, and swiftly sent him on his way.

Growing up, I’ve had plenty of these experiences. Whether it was strange looks at my mother or jokes about my Arabic name, life as a Muslim in post 9/11 America isn’t the cutest feeling. The constant villainization of Muslims in mainstream media makes it difficult to do even simple things such as buy groceries or get through airport security without crude jokes or dangerous assumptions, and with the murder of three innocent Muslim kids in Chapel Hill this past year, it’s clear that stereotyping can lead to even fatal consequences.

Fortunately we live in the age of technology and open information—we don’t always have to be victims of ignorance and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Misconceptions can be overcome with a simple but powerful thing, knowledge: here are ten common misconceptions about Islam and Muslims to help you break the cycle.

1. Muslim women have no rights
This is definitely a hot-topic and complicated issue but one of my favorite misconceptions to tackle.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TEEN VOGUE 

Three Christian misconceptions about Muslims

Muslim-blog — March 26, 2015

In my last post, I discussed three common misconception that Muslims have about Christians. Today, I will be exposing three misconceptions that Christians often believe concerning Muslims.

When the average Westerner hears “Muslim,” a number of images come to mind—mostly negative. But most Muslims would be just as horrified as we are at the assumptions entertained about them. Here are some of the most common misconceptions that Westerners have about Muslims:

Misconception 1: Most Muslims Support Terrorism.

Christians won’t usually come out and say that they think all Muslims are terrorists. But many do assume that the majority of Muslims support terrorism, albeit quietly. Much has been written about how Islam was established “by the sword,” or how Muslims engaging in terrorist activity are simply obeying what the Qur’an tells them to do. It is certainly easy to find Muslims using the Qur’an to justify violence. Even when you give the Qur’an a charitable reading, asking “What would Muhammad do?” will lead to a very different place than “What would Jesus do?”

That said, most of the Muslims you encounter—either in Western or in Islamic countries—are not violent people. They are kind, peaceable people and they are often embarrassed by the actions of Muslims throughout the world. While there is a good chance they see world politics very differently from the average Westerner, you will most likely find them warm, hospitable, and kind.

Yes, sincere Muslims believe that Islam will one day rule the world. And we can certainly chide Muslims for not speaking out more against terrorism. But we won’t get very far with them when we assume things about them that are not true. Just as we hate to be maligned, they hate it also.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY BLOG