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Study tackles stereotypical portrayals of Muslims on TV

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A new study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC) found on Wednesday that most popular TV shows have either erased Muslim characters or stereotyped them as extremists.

“Muslims make up 25% of the world’s population, but only accounted for 1.1% of popular TV drama characters,” said Al-Baab Khan of AI2, lead author of the study. The Hollywood Reporter reported.

“Not only is this sweeping erasure an insult, but it has the potential to create real hurt for the public, especially Muslims who may face prejudice, discrimination and even violence.”

📚 Read also : Actor Riz Ahmed urges Hollywood to re-examine Muslim imagery

The study titled, Erased or extremists: the stereotypical vision of Muslims in popular episodic serieswas made with the support of Riz Ahmed and his banner Left Handed Films, the Ford Foundation and the Pillars Fund.

The report looked at the top 200 rated TV series of 2018 and 2019 airing in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand and found that Muslim actors are largely absent from cultural TV shows. pop.

Besides the numerical deficit, the majority of Muslim characters were depicted as adults from the Middle East or North Africa. [MENA] men, despite the fact that Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the world.

These characters were also linked to violent acts and behavior. More than 30% of the 98 Muslim characters have been perpetrators of violence, while almost 40% have been the target of such attacks. Less than a third were portrayed as native English speakers, highlighting depictions of Muslims as “outsiders”.

“For Muslims, it sends the message that they don’t belong or don’t matter,” Riz Ahmed of production company Left Handed Films said in a statement. “For other people, we risk normalizing fear, bigotry and stigmatization of Muslims.”

Women too

The study also showed that Muslim women were often portrayed as “fearful and submissive to their male counterparts”.

“Networks and streaming services must take responsibility for ensuring that Muslims from all walks of life see themselves reflected in our favorite TV shows,” Ahmed said.

“And they would be wise to seize this massive opportunity to reach and connect with underserved global audiences – not just as part of a passing fad for diversity, but as a game-changing shift towards inclusive storytelling.”

Earlier in June 2021, Riz Ahmed launched a new initiative to combat Hollywood’s stereotypical and “toxic” portrayal of the Muslim community, stating that “the industry of Islamophobia is the one that measures its blood toll”.

His initiative was accompanied by the release of The Master Plan for Muslim Inclusion, co-published by his production company Left Handed Films with the Pillars Fund, and a USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative research study, titled Disappeared and Slandered: The Reality of Muslims in Popular World Films.

USC researchers looked at 200 popular films from the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand from 2017 to 2019. They found that only six of them had a Muslim in a role. co-leader, and that only one of them was a woman. Of the approximately 9,000 speaking parties, less than two percent were Muslim. And there are none in animated films.