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Lack of representation of Muslim in media and entertainment industries watch

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    I love the social movements we have at the moment, that we are part of in 2018 and have been in the previous years. Eg; Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #TimesUp. It’ so great to see black people stand up to oppression and inequality in society; also for women to come out in force and demand justice for sexist and misogynistic ideologies that exist amongst men and to challenge those views unapologetically.

    One area I find is vastly under-represented is the Muslim community in media and also in creative / entertainment industries. So here are my thoughts.

    Currently the media is obsessed with the tokenistic portrayal of Muslims, pretty much the only way Muslims are represented is if the person in their posters, shows, adverts are wearing a hijab. It’s as if the only way to recognise someone as a Muslim in the media is if they wear a hijab.

    It was good for a while, to have someone who could have been from your “community” be appreciated in the media, but this quickly turned into a vehicle for capitalism.

    When Nadiya Hussain won TGBBO in 2015, it was a breath of fresh air, finally to have someone who was a Muslim be in the news for accomplishing something great and not be terror-related was a great feeling – she just happen to have worn a hijab.

    Nadiya become a symbol for what could’ve been the beginning of accurate representation of Muslims in Western society, she was praised for being a great personality and was respected by everyone for keeping strong to her Islamic beliefs.

    But unfortunately, marketers eventually found a way to exploit this representation and use it for monetary gain. In TV shows, there are more portrayal of “Muslims” but the narrative don’t change or back stories of characters are expressed in a very simplistic and embarrassing ways, instead of taking the time to understand Islam and it’s culture, what you see is quick sound-bites that sound right, but is essentially meaningless. In advertising campaigns, it’s a complete joke to be honest… (L’Oreal Campaign)

    Anyway, moving on to the other portrayal of Muslims in the media, Secularism! It’s often highlighted in the entertainment industry, especially in Hollywood, the media praise Muslims who separate from their Islamic beliefs, as if that’s the only way they’ll “accept” us. I don’t hate on secular Muslims, it’s their life and all, but I do have an issue on how often secular Muslims are represented in the media, because it’s toxic. Why is Aziz Ansari the poster boy for Muslims in the entertainment industry?

    If you’re a young Muslim and you’re confused about life, growing up thinking you need to be accepted by society. Wanting to fit in and the only portrayal of accepted Muslims in the media are those who are secular, you begin to question yourself. Don’t get me wrong, questioning yourself is part of life, but it shouldn’t come from a place of vulnerability created by the media that wants to promote this narrative, that if you want to be “one of us” you need to denounce your association with Islam.

    Instead, we need promote our own individuality, create our own narratives and not be ashamed of where we come from. Instead of being a tool for big brands to exploit us so they can come across as “diverse” we need to take control of how we want to be portrayed in the media. Because the media isn’t going to promote your story about where you came from, the journey your ancestors took coming to Britain, your life as a Muslim or anything because ultimately they don’t care. Don’t worry about whether or not you fit into western society; first of all, ignore “them” and secondly, you do.

    What representation do I want to see in the media? Authentic. How would that be achieved? Honestly I don’t know.

    But at the moment, I feel the only way you can get into the entertainment industry is to sell your soul and become something you once despised.
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