The eight-part series follows five Muslim American families living in
Dearborn, Michigan in the United States. The show aims at removing the
stereotypes surrounding American Muslims by offering an intimate look at
the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these
families face outside and within their own community.
From a high
school football coach to working mothers trying to balance a career and
a family, America is finally getting the chance to see what Muslims are
like; not as extremists and suicide bombers but as normal human beings.
‘All-American Muslim’ Controversy
show recently sparked enormous controversy after American home
improvement giant, Lowe’s, pulled advertising space from the show
because a group who call themselves the Florida Family Association did
not like Muslims to be seen as normal human beings.
setback, the show gained popularity and hundreds have joined the
campaign to support the show and condemn Lowe’s for supporting bigotry.
perhaps, British television do with a similar show, depicting the lives
of British Muslims as normal human beings integrating into British
British Media’s portrayal of Muslims is almost always negative
From the rise of the far-right to articles posted in the Daily Mail and The Sun,
Muslims are often always portrayed by the British media in a negative
light. If Muslims are not extremists, they’re dangerous, oppressed or
secluded from society. One has to merely switch on any British soap
opera from Eastenders which shows a Muslim man shunned by his family for being gay to Waterloo Road
where you see a Muslim teenager going against her religion by dating a
non-Muslim. British television shows either depicts Muslims as
oppressed, going against Islam or struggling to fit in. Even in
government, one just has to look at British counter-terrorism policy
where the focus remains on Muslims needing to integrate.
reality, the majority of British Muslims are just like every other
British citizen out there. Just like how ‘All-American Muslim’ shows us a
Deputy Chief of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office working to keep his
country safe, a U.S Federal Agent, a trendy female entrepreneur trying
to open a nightclub and working mothers trying to balance a job and a
family, there are numerous British Muslims going through similar
experiences. Just as Americans were shocked to see Muslims contributing
to American society by being employed, educated and down-to-earth,
British Muslims also play a major part in British society; as doctors,
nurses, civil servants, entrepreneurs, beauticians, lawyers, housewives
and much more.
But the British Media doesn’t portray this.
Instead, from current affairs to films and television shows, we see
Muslims involved in honour killings, domestic violence, protests and
suicide bombings. When it comes to Islam and Muslims on British
television, there always has to be some sort of political stance
attached to it.
As a result, Islamophobia has been escalating across Britain. An article published by The Independent,
showed that since 9/11, some 40% to 60% of the mosques, Islamic centres
and Muslim organisations in the UK have suffered at least one attack.
The Metropolitan Police have also confirmed a record number of hate
crimes towards Muslims. ‘‘Islamophobia has passed the dinner-table test
and has become widely socially acceptable in Britain,’’ according to Baroness Warsi, the Conservative chairman.
Muslim accessibility to media
Let’s also not forget the barriers faced by Muslims and ethnic minorities to even make it in the media industry. A report
published by the Guardian, showed that ethnic minorities, particularly
women, are underrepresented by mainstream British media outlets. There are over
2 million Muslims living in Britain making up 4.6% of the population.
How diverse and normal would it be to turn on BBC news or ITV news and
see a Muslim woman wearing the headscarf giving the weather news or even
reporting on a football match?
‘All-American-Muslim’ has been eye-opening for Americans resulting in American viewers expressing comments such as ‘‘they’re just like us’’ and ‘‘I like Muslims now.’’
series similar to this depicting British Muslims working, living and
dealing with everyday issues could be one solution in countering
Islamophobia and removing the stereotypes surrounding Muslims. It could
also be financially rewarding with a possible 2 million Muslim viewers
TLC was brave enough to undertake such a venture. I
wonder which British mainstream media outlet will follow? BBC, ITV,
Channel 4, Channel 5…we’re all waiting.
First Published by Suite101
Copyright Reyhana Patel. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.