In September 2015, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas brought a homemade digital clock to school and was arrested because teachers, school administration, and the police thought it was a bomb. He had shown the clock he made to his engineering teacher, who told him to keep it in his bag, and then the alarm accidentally went off in his English teacher’s class. Although he told the teachers and principal that it was a clock, the police were called and he was handcuffed, arrested, taken for questioning, fingerprinted, and suspended for three days from school.
This video describes how graffiti artists snuck subversive messages onto a 2015 episode of Homeland, an American political and espionage television show about a CIA agent. The artists were asked by producers to add Arabic graffiti to the walls of a fictional Syrian refugee camp and they decided to take the opportunity to make a statement about the show’s repeated stereotyping and negative, limited portrayals of Muslims, Arabs, and the Middle East. The clip describes what happened and also shows one of the artists explaining why he finds Homeland problematic. He says, “It’s a complete inaccurate description of the Middle East and the Far East and the wider region. It shows every Muslim or every Arab who appears in the series as a terrorist, basically…In a case like Homeland, when it’s really degrading people and cultures…we should try and look a little bit beyond entertainment and also see the political messages that are transported on TV.” The graffitied messages (in Arabic) included, “Homeland is Racist,” “There is no Homeland,” and “#BlackLivesMatter.”
Published in early December 2015, this AJ+ video features a compilation of American Muslims talking about how they feel being a Muslim in America in the contemporary Islamaphobic social and political context. They describe feelings such as feeling unapologetic, oppressed, overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, uncomfortable, tired, depressed, tense, sad, frightened, hurt, and worried with regards to what one describes as the escalating Islamaphobic, anti-Muslim, racist rhetoric that dominates U.S. public discourse from sources including presidential candidates, other prominent public figures, and the news.
“I’m Muslim, But I’m Not...” is a BuzzFeed video that addresses stereotypes about Muslims by showing a diverse range of young adult Muslims talking about different aspects of their religious, racial, ethnic, national, and gender identities. The video has two parts, where respondents are shown finishing the sentence “I’m Muslim, but I’m not…” in the first part, and “I’m Muslim, and…” in the second. In the first section, the people in the video state their identities and respond to stereotypes. For example, a hijab-wearing woman states that she is Muslim but is not forced to wear the headscarf, and another woman says that she is Muslim even though she does not wear a hijab. A White man says he is Muslim but does not get stopped at the airport because his name is Tom and he is White, and an Asian man says he is Muslim but not Arab. A Black woman says she is Muslim but she is not an immigrant, and does not hate America. Another woman says she is Muslim, but not homophobic, and another says that she is Muslim, but you can be whatever you want to be. In the second half of the video, the respondents are finishing the sentence, “I’m Muslim, and…” and are shown saying things like, “I’m Muslim, and I’m a feminist,” or “I’m Muslim, and I love listening to rap music,” “I’m Muslim, and I’m descended from pilgrims on the Mayflower,” and “I’m Muslim, and my religion teaches me to love everyone.”
In this documentary program produced by the University of Southern California in 2008, Professor of Cinema and Television Ellen Seiter leads a discussion on “Film Viewing Across Cultures.” The project brought together a dozen undergraduate students, with participants born in the US, Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait and South Africa. The goal was to explore how film and television portrayals shaped understandings of America, Islam, and the Muslim world. Viewing a variety of historical and contemporary media portrayals, the discussion also interrogated the extent to which studying film can deepen cross-cultural understandings.