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- Written by Roshi
- Category: Culture
As Islamophobia in the US has reached unprecedented levels, the producers and cast of All American-Muslim are aware of the sensitive political moment in which the show enters national consciousness. “It’s a natural fit for us, giving people a window into people’s lives they are not so familiar with,” says Alon Orstein, TLC’s vice president of production and development. For Nawal Auode, one of the show’s participants and an expecting mother, the point of the show is connecting with the non-Muslim viewership; “you'll relate to me being a new mom and dealing with post-partum, and you'll relate to [her husband] Nader being a loving husband."
In a decade when almost “$43 million from seven charitable groups went toward financing anti-Muslim campaigns”, All American Muslim has the potential to challenge the current climate of fear, break down negative stereotypes, and chart a new course for perceptions of Islam/Muslims in America. Yet, like many efforts that debunk minority myths, the show’s potential may be in for a cultural fight.
“Danger is in the deception and obfuscation of the truth,” wrote World Net Daily’s Michael Carr. Anti-Islam analyst Pamela Geller from Atlas Shrugs has already assembled a watch on the TV series, claiming it as “an attempt to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to bully them into thinking that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.” Jihad Watch publisher Robert Spencer agrees, adding, “the show is trying to show that Muslims go to clubs, like to have fun, etc. But this doesn’t really establish anything.” Then again, this is also the same organization that claims that Islamophobia is a Muslim Brotherhood-invented concept.
Will All American Muslim be for the Muslim American community what the Cosby Show was for African Americans? Unlike political rhetoric, popular media has proven to be a powerful tool in exploding misconceptions. One important issue that will be addressed in the depictions of cast members Nawal Auode, Zaynab Zaban and others featured on the show is the issue of the hijab or veil– the headscarf worn my Muslim women. In the West, this piece of cloth has come to symbolize oppression and often subjects hijab-wearers to racial profiling. In watching the universal trials and tribulations Nawal and Zaynab face as parents there will many opportunities for non-Muslim women to see themselves and their experiences in these women. Nawal said that after watching the show“ when viewers turn off the TV, [she wants] them to see a hijabi and smile.”
Hailed by The Atlantic as “one of the best new shows of the fall,” it’s one of the few reality shows in the marketplace that works to educate and set the record straight rather than perpetuate the paranoia that have fueled Hollywood box office sales for so long. While most of today’s reality TV revels in the decay of people and their social surroundings, what sets All American Muslim apart from the rest is its constant focus on the strengths that keep families and communities together. If there is anything unordinary about this show, it is its focus on what connects and keeps people together, with dialogues and insights that can resonate on a human level- regardless of faith. In the United States’ continuum of nationality, what defines us is not our differences, but the shared traits amongst the diverse experiences of what it means to be a contemporary American.
You can follow the show on Facebook. Check local listings for showtimes.By Areej Noor and Safa Samiezade-Yazd
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