Stereotyping Muslims


by Sunny
28th April, 2008 at 9:38 pm    

Good pieces in the Indy today, by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, and yesterday in the Observer by Huma Qureshi about British Muslims being stereotyped. I particularly liked Huma’s piece:

A new five-part series on Muslim women called Women in Black starts next week. The series boldly goes where no undercover Dispatches investigative journalist has ever been before. Yes, you guessed it, under the burka. Ever wondered what lies beneath? Jack Straw did.

Last summer, I was asked to take part in the programme. The makers said they wanted to shatter stereotypes and show the empowered, modern, young, cool Muslim woman (presumably because we haven’t gone off the rails like the modern, young, British, uncool Muslim man). Would I take part? ‘Of course,’ I said. Am I not empowered and modern and Muslim and cool? Hell, yes.

‘Your dress is quite Western,’ they said ruefully. I was wearing jeans and a short-sleeved top (yes, I really do remember what I was wearing that day.

You see, burkas make good TV. I don’t. I’ve just taken a look at the show. What we get is the presenter donning an abaya and going to Yemen to show us all the fun things us Muslim women do, like wear long, black cloaks, party in the women’s quarters and put sparkly eyeshadow on.

BBC. Liberal racism. Enough said.


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9 Comments below   |  

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  1. marvin — on 28th April, 2008 at 9:50 pm  

    It’s not just Muslims mind

    A commenter on CIF says

    The media always resorts to seeking out stereotypes when they have a story.

    If there is a story about Catholicism there’s usually a Priest or an abuse victim; if there’s a story about Science Fiction they’ll drag in some tit with a pair of Spock ears.

    Looking at the BBC’s White Season it all seemed to about about Enoch freakin Powell. Oh lets look at the working class whites! What does that mean to you? Um, BNP sorts, I’d think chaps!

    Though, given the current climate, its pretty bad that the media find it so acknowledge the real moderates (i.e the majority of ordinary Muslims) are out there and well, just being normal. I think most of us on blogs have been saying for years that the media, especially the BBC, fall over themselves to speak to the non-violent extremists and pretty much blatantly ignore everyone else.

  2. Rumbold — on 28th April, 2008 at 9:58 pm  

    It seems to be only us white middle-class British hetrosexuals that do not get stereotyped. And guess who makes the programmes in which every other group gets stereotyped?

  3. cjcjc — on 28th April, 2008 at 10:29 pm  

    You don’t get stereotyped, merely vilified.

  4. Sunny — on 28th April, 2008 at 11:01 pm  

    It must be a hard life cjcjc…

    Marvin – true, I said the same about the White Season. It was dripping with condescending attitudes.

  5. MaidMarian — on 29th April, 2008 at 12:01 am  

    One of my ex-girlfriends was muslim. Without wanting to stereotype she did not share my taste for a good three rasher bacon sandwich!

    That said, and as a slight counterpoint to the article. Burka is a real political satement. If one is going to make a statement, one should not expect it to just be ignored. To dismiss it as someone just, ‘looking to make good TV,’ strikes me as rather one-eyed.

    Sorry.

  6. bananabrain — on 29th April, 2008 at 11:43 am  

    it’s the same with jews. if you’re going to show a jew on television they have to be either a) a hasidic type with fur hat, penguin suit, beard and earlocks, b) a secular/cultural/bagel-eating media type with no visibly jewish attributes other than those legitimised by woody allen, ie self-deprecating humour, neuroses and high IQ or c) an israeli with a grab bag of either an american accent (or that israeli speech pattern that involves going “EEEH” every two seconds), mirrored sunglasses and intransigent political vocabulary. actually, it’s not a million miles off how they portray muslims.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  7. dave bones — on 30th April, 2008 at 10:18 am  

    I think most of us on blogs have been saying for years that the media, especially the BBC, fall over themselves to speak to the non-violent extremists and pretty much blatantly ignore everyone else.

    Its blow up or shut up. I’ve been saying that for years.

    BBC. Liberal racism. Enough said.

    Asghar Bukhari from MPACUK who links from your commentisfree article has always come across to me as successfully angry without frightening people.

  8. sonia — on 30th April, 2008 at 11:44 am  

    yeah with groups come stereotypes. shitty and encouraging it through these block ideas of group and community and community leader just reinforces it all. And of course broadcast media don’t care or understand individuality since they are precisely about reinforcing crude tribalisms and power structures . People need to be careful how they feed this kind of ‘Othering’…on this sitei would say e.g. posters like Fugstar majorly encourage this sort of thing and make the stereotypers think they are actually onto something. it takes two to tango.

  9. Boyo — on 1st May, 2008 at 10:01 am  

    Liberal racism. Have you copywrited that term Sunny? I think you should – it says all that needs to be said about so much of the media, and mainstream politics.

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