Thursday, December 2, 2010

Muslim Stereotypes

We had a guest speaker, Barbara Petzen, from She spoke about how Islam and Muslims are viewed in America today.

Her first point was that Muslims are often generalized. Maps often depict "The Muslim World" and Muslims as being very similar. But the reality is that there is a wide spectrum of practice and orthodoxy in Islam - just as there is in other religions.

Seventy percent of the coverage of Muslims in America is coverage related to violence. In reality, out of 1.5 billion Muslims, CIA specialists estimate the number of Muslims to involved in terrorism in the thousands.

But these other voices are not heard. Mainstream media prefers to focus on a few extremist voices: Osama Bin Laden and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Iran are the usual suspects.

Often times, Muslims are not shown in the media denouncing the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Yet, there are many examples of this. And here.

Often times, the government in power is shown as representing all people of a given country or even all Muslims. For example, Ahmadinejad's administration is shown as the voice of all of the people. That would be like assuming all Americans agree with Barack Obama or George Bush and their policies.

Another aspect of Islam that the American media tends to ignore is the diversity within the Muslim communities.

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