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Dealing with the Media and Misconceptions
The Muslims at the Muslim Community Center of Minnesota in Bloomington are concerned that their image, as Muslims, has been portrayed wrongly. Muslims in America often face criticism, mainly from those unfamiliar with the religious tradition and choose to generalize the Muslim population as violent, barbaric terrorists. As Shahid Aziz, one of the parents running the MCC School, questioned in distress, “Do I look threatening to you? Do I look inhumane? How can you take the same brush and paint the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world?”1 Contrasting to the arguments made by the violent Islamic organizations covered and introduced through the media, “an ideal Muslim society,” as Shahid explained, in one where “the rights of non Muslims exceed those of the Muslims, protection is a promise and a guarantee.” Those who think otherwise are just a minority of Muslims and it is these Muslims that are promoted and are prominent in the media.
Do I look threatening to you? Do I look inhumane? How can you take the same brush and paint the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world?
What is happening in the world is not representative of the Muslim community. Muslims “are not criminals, they are not lazy, and their contribution to the economy is tremendous,” as Shahid explained, nothing like their stereotypes. “Look at Malaysia and Indonesia,” he continued, “millions of Muslims are prospering.” It is important, as they continuously emphasized, to note that the majority of Muslims are peaceful, stating, “we are not the monsters portrayed by the media.” Although the media chooses to focus on the violent version of Islam, Muslims are not violent people, they are not “an entirely different breed,” but are normal human beings just like everyone else. It is extremely problematic that the public is introduced to this very narrow version of Islam, introducing the violent Muslims and extremists in the Middle East, instead of the peaceful Muslims around the world.
All quotations drawn from an interview with Shahid Aziz, Shahid Abbas, and Mashood Yunus, 30 April 2016. ↩