20 January 2007

Fictional Dramas Are More Detrimental Than The Words And Actions Of Actual Muslims?

Last night I was watching The O'Reilly Factor, and there was a segment on complaints regarding the portrayal of Muslims in the current season of "24." O'Reilly's guest was Arsalan Iftikhar, the legal director for CAIR.

O'Reilly had just made a point that there are actually jihadists who are actively involved fighting against America, and that the writers for dramas shouldn't be chided for realistically depicting those enemies. Iftikhar responded that the argument allowed people to say that shows such as "24" are based in the reality of the world we live in and that is why they are portraying Muslims as terrorists, but then to hide behind the fact the the show is fiction when Muslims complain about that portrayal. He finished his rebuttal with the following statement. [Note: I created this transcript because I wasn't sure if I would be able to find a transcript online today; the comments in the brackets were added by me to fill in the context of what was being discussed.]
"Yes, you know, there are people [who are Muslim and are enemies of the U.S.], and as American Muslims we are as committed to the protection of our national security as everyone else. But when shows [such as "24"] paint an entire demographic group as being complicit in terrorism when they have, you know, [a] Muslim family as the next sleeper cell, you know, obviously to Americans who don't know anything about Muslims or Islam, it's going to give them a lot of pause when they deal with their Muslim friends, neighbors, and co-workers."

Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director for CAIR, discussing the portrayal of Muslims in the Fox drama "24" on the 19 January 2007 edition of "The O'Reilly Factor."
The problem I have with Iftikhar's argument is that, if Muslims weren't this year's villains on "24," would he be as vehement about the negative perceptions created in the minds of "Americans who don't know anything about Muslims or Islam" when Imam Abu Usamah at-Thahabi "calls for the public crucifixion of all 'kuffar' and says they should be 'left there to bleed to death for three days.'?" Or how about when Omar Brooks, aka Abu Izzadeen, says that "Mohammed's message to nonbelievers is: 'I come to slaughter all of you.'?"

One would think that those statements from actual Muslims would have just as much, if not more, of a derogatory effect on the public perception of Islam and its adherents. Further, since one of those Muslims, Abu Usamah at-Thahabi, regularly spews his venom at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, England, wouldn't it be a logical leap to tie all of those Muslims who attend that mosque to those same violent and terroristic concepts and ideals?

I just checked CAIR's website this afternoon, and while there were references on their home page to the impact of the portrayal of Muslims on "24," there was not a single mention of the firebrand Muslims who have been highlighted recently by CNN and other news organizations.

Again, as I said in my post on this yesterday, Muslims need to worry more about the image created for them by the words and actions of other Muslims. Once they have cleaned up the radicals and extremists who preach hate in the mosques attended by Muslims (who we are to believe are just regular moderates, and not affected by the sermons they hear weekly), then they may be able to make a reasonable argument regarding their portrayal in fictional dramas.

Until that happens, I will continue have a difficult time taking their concerns over portraying Muslims in television programs seriously, especially since those fictional portrayals are far too similar to the reality of the words and actions of Muslims in incidents which take place daily around the world.


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