After the horrifying attacks on September 11th, 2001, Americans have treated Arabs and Muslims with such anger and terror in the news and media. They are viewed as a constant global threat and nothing but a deceiving group of terrorists. Arabs and Muslims have been greatly discriminated against, mistreated and stereotypically portrayed due to the actions of specific Muslim terrorist groups (Alsultany 2012). The power the media has on the Arab and Muslim culture has significantly created negative, terrorizing imageries for American audiences and “in the eyes of Americans, they have become collectively known as dangerous outsiders” (Bayoumi 2009). The American press and news play a major part in influencing the existing idea that Arabs and the Islamic religion are evidently a threat to the U.S. economy, as well as the U.S. national security (Alsultany 2012).
In the 2006 drama, Babel, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, there are multiple misconceptions of the Arab and Muslim world. The movie consists of four different storylines, which are all linked with a symbolic object, a rifle. The background setting of the film takes place in Morocco where many could assume to be paradise. In one of the storylines, Americans Richard and Susan visit the Arab country of Morocco and Susan is shot. This scene inflicts a negative image of the behavior of Muslims, inferring that they are cruel and do nothing but terrorize Americans (Alsultany 2012). This representation of Moroccans and Muslims inherit fear and horror to tourists and outsiders, thus targeting the United States. In a different scene one of the two Moroccan brothers accidentally shoots Susan and is later shot by Moroccan police officers. His brother then picks up his father’s gun and begins shooting as defense. This also reinforces the stereotype of violence and terror, and how apathetic Muslims (Alsultany 2012) seem to be. Muslims go as far as committing suicide for their religion, Islam. Yet this scene also shows a different point of view, in which the brothers share their interpersonal relationship and portray the “good Muslim” instead. There is an indefinite of love between these two boys, despite their race or religion.
According to Evelyn Alsultany’s Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representations after 9/11, she states, “‘Bad’ Arabs or Muslims are the terrorists, and their ‘good’ counterparts are those who help the U.S. government fight terrorism.” Americans definitely view all Muslims as an entire group of “bad” Muslims. In today’s society when a shooting/attack occurs, it is automatically categorized as a terrorist attack if the assaulter was Muslim or Arab. The media covers news about bombings in Paris and Belgium, but when it comes to the tragedies in Palestine, Syria or the Middle East, the media is blinded by these atrocities. The 9/11 bombing and those specific terrorist groups do not represent the entire Muslim and Arab population and culture. These negative and repulsive stereotypes presented in the media only continue to support the existing beliefs that do nothing but turn Americans against the Muslim and Arab world.
Alsultany, Evelyn. Selections from in Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11. NYU Press, 2012.
Moustafa Bayoumi, “Preface,” in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America. Penguin, 2009.