Syed Ali Mujtaba
Muslims in the US are suffering from marginalization in the media and cinema. This is found out by Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a leading think tank in the US.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative develops targeted, research-based solutions to tackle inequality. It does original research and sponsored projects, studying diversity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industry.
The USC Annenberg’s inclusion initiative indicated that Muslims make up 25 percent of the world’s population, but their presence as characters in popular TV series does not exceed 1.1 percent.
The study stated that images of Muslims are often linked to terrorism or violence. It found that “more than 30% of the 98 Muslim personalities assessed were vulnerable to perpetrators of violence, while nearly 40% were the target of violent attacks.”
There are two significant pointers about the portrayal of Muslims in popular culture, tells the study. One, there is a common trope that Muslim men are portrayed in a bad light. Second is the portrayal of Muslim women in their veil.
A deliberate stereotype is built which makes the public assume that the ‘veil is a symbol of oppression’. The stereotypes built relate to “the feeling of the liberation of Muslim women when they take off the veil.”
Muslim women in popular culture are commonly portrayed as submissive and fearful of their male counterparts. This is another serotype that is deliberately built to reinforce the idea that Muslim women are vulnerable to oppression by their menfolk.
The study says that the media focus is often placed on the faith of the Muslim personalities interviewed. This makes the public believe that religion is the focus of every Muslim’s life. Such a stereotype reduces the chances of showing some other aspects of Muslim men/women’s personalities.
“These kinds of stereotypes are the cause of Muslims being isolated and not getting integrated as productive members of American societies”, says the study.
The study revealed that among the 98 Muslim personalities interviewed, almost half of them referred to their faith in some way or other, while 23.5 percent of them revealed that they were portrayed non-verbally on the grounds that they are Muslims.
‘Los Angeles Times’ has published a detailed article on Muslims in the US, based on Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The newspaper has indicated that Muslim immigrants in America suffer from abuse in media and Cinema in the US.