In the particular past few months, the Twitter and TikTok rss feeds have been flooded along with clips from shows that will have butchered Muslim portrayal. 

In one video, the character from Netflix display Tiny Pretty Things is seen heavy in prayer until the woman appears away from nowhere fast and lures him directly into a seductive dance. In another, a doctor upon Grey’s Anatomy dramatically rips away her hijab to end a patient from hemorrhaging, despite being in the hospital, surrounded by bandages and medical equipment. “No more Muslim representation, make sure you,” one person upon Twitter joked in reaction.

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These unrealistic depictions are usually hardly new. Muslims have got long been excluded or even misrepresented in media. After 9/11, Muslims went through being largely invisible in order to being regularly portrayed since terrorists or villains within film and television. In news coverage, the tag “terrorist” is almost specifically put on those associated along with Islam. Attacks by Muslims on average get 357% more coverage

This has major real-world results. A 2015 study discovered that exposure to adverse portrayals “increased perceptions associated with Muslims as aggressive, improved support for harsh municipal restrictions of Muslim Americans, plus increased support for army action in Muslim nations.” Perpetuating those stereotypes in film and tv can be detrimental in order to communities.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Oh, it can simply TV, it’s just entertainment,’ to clean it off as when it doesn’t have real-life impact,” said Evelyn Alsultany, associate professor in the particular Department of American Studies plus Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. “But these types of images completely shape exactly how we see one another, exactly how we understand each some other.” 

Ramy is 1 of the latest displays rethinking representation of Muslims on screen. 


Thankfully, more shows are integrating Muslim characters who tend to be not linked to terrorism or even extremism. Drama series Transplant, which debuted on NBC in September, features the Syrian Muslim doctor. Hulu’s Ramy, produced by Arab-American and Golden Globe-winner Ramy Youssef, has been famous for its depiction associated with American Muslims. Other shows such as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Bold Type, FBI and Orange may be the New Black also function prominent Muslim characters. Riz Ahmed made history this yr by becoming the 1st Muslim nominated for the best lead actor Oscar for his role within Sound of Metal (in which he will not enjoy the Muslim character). This year’s Sundance Film Festival included a series of panels upon Muslims in entertainment, signaling change within the market. 

Riz Ahmed, the 1st Muslim actor nominated intended for a best lead acting professional Oscar. 

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

“The wave is finally turning towards, ‘Not only do all of us want to represent a person authentically, we actually would like you to tell your own story,'” Cherien Dabis, the producer, writer and movie director, said throughout a Sundance -panel on Middle Eastern writers within entertainment. “The arrival associated with Ramy marked that change, and I think jooxie is just at the really beginning from it.”

A function in progress

Writer and movie director Lena Khan, who’s labored on a number of projects including Disney Plus‘ Flora and Ulysses, says she is optimistic about in which the business is headed. Still, discover plenty of room intended for growth. As a lady who wears the hijab (or headscarf), she’s sometimes needed to deal with suppliers who hold stereotypical sights about people that look such as her.

“The first couple of minutes you meet all of them, you almost have in order to convince them that if you’re normal and also have fresh tips,” Khan said. 

She also says the girl gets a number of scripts every year that all the actual same premise: Four Muslim ladies live in a traditional area and want in order to push back by obtaining “some sort of action that individuals feel is towards the grain,” such as surfing or starting the rock band. “Many from the stories are Muslims heading against dominant Muslim lifestyle,” she said. “Is the industry not however Cofortable with Muslims just becoming practicing Muslims?”

Hollywood can be slowly stepping away through representing Muslims merely within connection to terrorism. Transplant on NBC includes a main character who is the Muslim doctor. 

Yan Turcotte/Sphere Media/CTV/NBC

Representation matters, and institutions like the Muslim Public Affairs Council or even Muslims On Screen and Television function toward promoting accurate portrayals. But in show company, money talks. Thankfully, the 2017 report from Mediaversity found that inclusive films actually outperformed non-diverse equivalents across a number associated with metrics. A more current UCLA report in 2020 found that big-budget movies lacking diversity tend in order to see significant losses within opening weekend box workplace revenue.

“When a [show like] Ramy makes Hulu millions associated with dollars,” said Sue Obeidi, director of MPAC’s Hollywood bureau, “the industry’s viewing.”

President Donald Trump’s ban on migration from seven Muslim-majority countries also had a massive impact. Alsultany says authors and producers were furious at the ban plus, because of this, created more complicated characters who aren’t connected to terrorism and tend to be not constantly trying to show their patriotism. 

Last year, Alsultany and Obeidi created the Obeidi-Alsultany Test, a collection of five criteria to “evaluate whether a TV or even film project presents Muslim characters in dynamic, refined, plus intersectional stories and contexts.” The check includes examining whether tasks with Muslim characters prevent tropes, if the heroes possess a strong presence plus if you will find a Muslim author on staff.

“It can make a huge difference when you have someone of that identification included in the creative process,” Alsultany said.

Capturing the range of voices

It’s furthermore important to showcase variety within the Muslim neighborhood, Alsultany notes. Shows plus movies should include the range of characters that are both religious and high-end, and who have a lot more for their identities than simply their ties to belief. 

Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus, hungry for content within a competitive space, provide more opportunities for different stories to be informed, says Hussein Rashid, an educational whose research focuses upon Muslims and American well-known culture.

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“Network TELEVISION finds a formula intended for success and repeats this,” Rashid said. “Streaming services are more ready to experiment because they will don’t have those conferences in place right at this point.”

But mistakes have already been made. If the proper individuals aren’t in the area, you’re more likely in order to get depictions like the particular awkward prayer scene within Tiny Pretty Things, or moments whenever hijabi women are “freed” from hijab after dropping for a white man, as portrayed in Netflix’s Elite. That won’t change till more people with the range of experiences are usually involved both behind the particular camera and onscreen, professionals say.

Boosting diverse portrayal of the Muslim neighborhood includes elevating Black Muslim sounds — another topic discussed this season at Sundance

Muna Deria, a writer plus director, says the Black Lives Matter movement allows people in order to speak more honestly plus frankly about issues encircling representation. She now seems emboldened to make demands like asking for the Black mentor or in order to work with a Black producer.

A growing amount of Muslim creatives are not really just appearing on display, but additionally behind the digital camera. Disney Plus’ Flora and Ulysses is directed by Lena Khan, who might be Muslim.


“The Black Lives Matter motion implies that Muslim people associated with all races are capable to have conversations they might otherwise not have,” Deria said.

She states you should try the film plus TV industry represents Black Muslims as well as other minority groups all through entire crews. More mentorship programs are required intended for young people to really feel like a future within this type of work can be even possible. Writers’ areas and the content that will comes out of all of them needs to be more diverse.

But we’re on this way. Alsultany says she’s seen a good influx of Muslim college students headed to careers within media, from screenwriting in order to journalism to movie manufacturing. Khan also says the girl anticipates a flood associated with young people will become in a number of writers’ rooms within the next five many years. That can have the major impact on not really just Muslim representation upon screen, but the way the local community is perceived within the actual world.

“A lot associated with times,” Khan records, “art is what forces society to obtain up in order to speed.”

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