The representation of Muslims in the media has always been an ongoing issue. For years, Muslim and Middle Eastern actors have been open about their displeasure about being typecasted as terrorists. Comedians have been joking about how limited roles are for Muslims, and it is not very hard to find articles about this problem.
While there have been a few depictions of Muslims that are not stereotypes such as Abed from Community, Arastoo Vaziri from Bones, and Nimah Amin from Quantico, this does not change the fact that Muslims do not have enough positive role models in the media.
In order to draw attention to this issue, the Writer’s Guild of America East and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, also known as the MPAC, collaborated together and assembled a panel of Muslim writers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amber Fares, Farhan Arshad, Maysoon Zayid, Negin Farsad, and Sue Obeidi were present at the event.
The panelist discussed many different issues facing Muslims including negative Muslim stereotypes, lack of positive representation, and even how the recent Christchurch mosque shooting is affecting Muslims. The panelists also got the chance to explain their goals and what needs to be done to accomplish these goals.
Some progress has been made though. A few Muslim creators have had the chance to share their own experiences as Muslims and write their own stories. In 2017, Kumail Nanjiani of Silicon Valley wrote and starred in The Big Sick which was based on his real-life experience as a Muslim man dating a white woman. The Big Sick was very successful and was even nominated for an Oscar. Also in 2017, the Australian movie, Ali’s Wedding, was released, which is a Muslim romantic comedy written by and starring Osamah Sami. And of course, Indian comedian Aziz Ansari created the Netflix series, Master of None.
In this current social climate, these issues facing Muslims have become even more important. Hopefully, now that more attention has been drawn to this issue, more progress can be made.