Islam and popular culture: an Inside Islam recap

All-American Muslim, a reality TV show we covered in 2011. Photo: TLC

It’s fitting to end Inside Islam where we started. When we first began the project, we focused heavily on Islam in popular culture and media. Our first shows and posts focused on Muslim youth and new media, videobloggers, and even fashion.

Our focus on cultural topics was deliberate. In our efforts to break down stereotypes about Islam, our strategy was to humanize Muslims by showing them engaged in activities non-Muslims could relate to. Popular culture has always cut across cultural and geographic borders, so we focused heavily on the medium. Continue reading

Being Banned: An Inside Islam recap


The Islamic Center is Murfreesboro, TN. Photo: tennessean.com

The Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is in the news again. The last time Inside Islam covered the center, it had been delayed on a procedural technicality. Most recently, a federal judge overruled that decision, and the center is expected to open sometime this month, hopefully in time for Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.

This development gives us an opportunity to reflect on similar stories that we have covered over the years. Rather than an isolated case of pushback against Islam, the Murfreesboro debate is just one example of attempts to ban or otherwise stifle expressions of faith. As I went through the Inside Islam archives, it really struck me what a monumental torrent of hate and Islamophobia Muslims are up against.

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Does Comedy Help?

Can comedy defuse an increasingly Islamophobic atmosphere in the west? Or do short films, sketches, and new media actually solidify preexisting bigotry and reinforce stereotypes through caricatures of Muslim people?

In the wake of the Lowe’s controversy, some comedy sketches have poked fun at the ridiculousness nature of fearing Muslims and Islam. In one sketch (below), two men of presumably South Asian Muslim descent, visit a Lowe’s Superstore to shop for “materials.” The epic background, set by what is meant to be “Islamic-sounding” music, presents an ominous mood, preparing the viewer for the culminating, climactic event. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so watch the clip to see what happens.

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Will Discrimination Backfire?

Image: Ahmed Rehab

Reem recently wrote about the controversy surrounding Lowe’s, the home improvement superstore that caved to Islamophobic pressure from the Florida Family Association (FFA) and pulled its advertising from the reality television show All-American Muslim.

Earlier this week, Jon Stewart and Asif Mandvi of the Daily Show ridiculed the absurdity of the fear many Americans have surrounding Islam and Muslims. In one segment, Stewart criticized the blatant bigotry of the FFA, a fundamentalist activist group, for lobbying American corporations to pull their advertising from All-American Muslim. But that didn’t stop kayak.com from following the lead of Lowe’s and pulling their ad campaign from the show this past Wednesday, days after the controversy made international news. In fact, according to the FFA, 65 advertisers targeted by mass email complaints have withdrawn funding from the December 11 show.

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Building Things Together?

This past Saturday, Lowe’s Home Improvement store, which uses the  motto “Let’s Build Something Together,” pulled its advertising from TLC’s new show All-American Muslim after being pressured by the Florida Family Association. A statement put out by Lowe’s laid out their reasoning for this decision:

Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individual and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.

The Florida Family Association asked its members to petition Lowe’s to pull its advertising, which appears to have been successful. Furthermore, the group claims that 65 companies that they targeted have pulled their advertising. Continue reading

All-American Muslim Revisited

Last night, TLC aired the second episode of All-American Muslim, an 8-part series that follows the lives of five Muslim American families in Dearborn, Michigan. As I wrote in an earlier post, the show aims to dispel the stereotypes that surround Muslims and Islam. As a Muslim American, I had high expectations of the show. I was excited that an entire program would focus on the Muslim American community and would generate more discussion on this minority group. Well, the show certainly created more discussion,  after watching two episodes of All-American Muslim as well as Anderson Cooper’s daytime show about it, I am a bit disappointed by certain aspects of the show. Continue reading

Inside Islam Radio Show: All-American Muslim

Two Muslim-American Women Featured in All-American Muslim

Tune in tomorrow (Wednesday, November 9) to hear the latest Inside Islam radio show. Jean will speak with the producers and Nina Bazzy, a character from the reality TV show, All American-Muslim. This show, which premieres this Sunday on TLC, follows five Muslim families in predominately Arab-American Dearborn, Michigan.

For more information on the show and related content, see Reem’s recent post and other pieces about the use of television to challenge stereotypes of Muslim-Americans. Do you think this program will have a positive impact on the image of Muslim Americans? Or will it simply promote further negative stereotypes? Leave your comments below and we may use them on air.

How to Listen and Participate

  • Leave a post below and the Inside Islam radio team will consider airing your comments and question during the broadcast.
  • Listen live on radio stations in Wisconsin Public Radio listening areas. The show will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. and re-broadcast at 9 p.m. CT.
  • Listen to a live webstream of the show on the Ideas Network.
  • Call 1-877-GLOBE-07 to leave a voice mail for Here on Earth: Radio without Borders anytime.
  • Leave a comment on this page, or send us an email with your thoughts.