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

How Muslims Became the Good Guys on TV

p07drx41Hit show Homeland is about to end, after many years casting Islam as the enemy. But in its place has come a wave of thrillers portraying Muslims as heroes, writes Mohammad Zaheer.

One of Hollywood’s many ugly truths is that, for all its claims to be a progressive industry, it has relied heavily on racial and ethnic stereotypes, catering to and shaping the prejudices that are prevalent amongst its audience. This is especially true when it comes to who it chooses as its villains.

Even though the Cold War ended decades ago, Russians have remained a favoured variety of bad guy, and Germans have also had a rough ride thanks to the countless number of Nazi evildoers who have appeared on screen since World War Two.

But since the turn of the millennium, the demographic who has undoubtedly been the greatest single target for demonisation are Muslim-Arabs. Even before the events of 9/11, they found themselves portrayed variously as sleazy oil rich sex pests, exotic subservient women, misogynists and/or militant terrorists. But the tragedy of September 11 2001 and the subsequent war on terror only exacerbated their negative typecasting.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC NEWS 

Islam and Hip-Hop: Muslims in America

maxresdefaultThough it’s one of the most diverse religious groups in America, the U.S. Muslim population has been subject to narrow interpretation and unfavorable stereotypes. The misconceptions about the “dangers” of the religion became much more prevalent post-9/11, resulting in a surge of Islamophobia and faith-based discrimination in the nation.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment is just systematic of a deeply entrenched anti-blackness that the country is built off of,” Imam Khalid Latif, executive director of the Islamic Center at NYU, told Complex. “And if people have to understand anything, and they’re trying to understand how to break this down, they got to know where it’s coming from.”

In an effort to shed more light on American-Muslim culture, we’re presenting Islam and Hip-Hop: Muslims in America—the latest installment of our docuseries, Complex News Presents. Speedy Mormon sat down with several members of the religion to discuss everything from representation in the media to institutionalized discrimination to the common thread between Islam and hip-hop.

FULL STORY AND VIDEO FROM COMPLEX

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 

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) 

 

 

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 

How Christian entertainment is upending stereotypes about Muslims

Christian comedian Jeremy McLellan, from Charleston, South Carolina has struck a chord with Muslims all over the world but particularly in North America. He has over 100,000 followers on Facebook, and about half are from the United States.

The second highest fan base is from Pakistan, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada and India. McLellan says he knows many of these followers are Muslim through comments and messages he receives.

 McLellan puts social justice at the center of his work and his comedy has turned into an unlikely form of advocacy against Islamophobia.

 

Christian comedian Jeremy McLellan has struck a chord with Muslims all over the world. His comedy has turned into an unlikely form of advocacy against Islamophobia, and he’s become a staple at Muslim festivals around North America.| Tyler Sawyer

“I didn’t set out to write jokes for Muslims. I tell a lot of jokes about a lot of things — race, immigration, police brutality — all these hot-button topics that I love addressing. But over the past year, a lot of stuff I was saying about Muslims started to go viral, and it actually makes perfect sense. Here is this large demographic, in the United States and around the world who are interested in these exact same issues,” McLellan said.

McLellan, 30, has become a staple at Muslim festivals and events around North America, including the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) annual banquet in Los Angeles, one of the largest CAIR banquets in the country attracting 2,000 people, including prominent American Muslims, interfaith activists and politicians, and the Muslimfest in Toronto, a festival bringing together more than 20,000 people every year to celebrate the best in Muslim art, entertainment and culture.

Dubbing McLellan a rising star, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR Los Angeles, says McLellan is an important ally to the Muslim community. “We need both voices: a Muslim voice is important because it lives, feels and experiences the challenges. But we also need non-Muslim voices that will humanize our community. You never know, a funny message coming from a Caucasian non-Muslim might resonate with someone who may not be open to listening to a Muslim.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM DESERET NEWS 

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