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Arabs and Muslims in the Media

Race and Representation after 9/11

Evelyn Alsultany

Publication Year: 2012

After 9/11, there was an increase in both the incidence of hate crimes and government policies that targeted Arabs and Muslims and the proliferation of sympathetic portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media. Arabs and Muslims in the Media examines this paradox and investigates the increase of sympathetic images of “the enemy” during the War on Terror.


Evelyn Alsultany explains that a new standard in racial and cultural representations emerged out of the multicultural movement of the 1990s that involves balancing a negative representation with a positive one, what she refers to as “simplified complex representations.” This has meant that if the storyline of a TV drama or film represents an Arab or Muslim as a terrorist, then the storyline also includes a “positive” representation of an Arab, Muslim, Arab American, or Muslim American to offset the potential stereotype.  Analyzing how TV dramas such as West Wing, The Practice, 24, Threat Matrix, The Agency, Navy NCIS, and Sleeper Cell, news-reporting, and non-profit advertising have represented Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans, and Muslim Americans during the War on Terror, this book demonstrates how more diverse representations do not in themselves solve the problem of racial stereotyping and how even seemingly positive images can produce meanings that can justify exclusion and inequality.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. vii


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p. ix

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pp. 1-17

On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab Muslim men hijacked four airplanes and flew them into two of the greatest icons of power in the United States—the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nearly three thousand people were killed. In response, the U.S. government, under President George W. Bush, initiated the self-proclaimed War on Terror—a military, political, and legal campaign targeting Arabs...

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1 Challenging the Terrorist Stereotype

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pp. 18-46

In 2004 the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) accused the TV drama 24 of perpetuating stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims.1 CAIR objected to the persistent portrayal of Arabs and Muslims in the context of terrorism, stating that “repeated association of acts of terrorism with Islam will only serve to increase anti-Muslim...

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2 Mourning the Suspension of Arab American Civil Rights

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pp. 47-70

After 9/11 the news media and the public alike seemed eager to debate, and to disagree about, the manifold issues and anxieties unleashed by the terrorist attacks: whether the USA PATRIOT Act should be passed; whether Arabs and Muslims should be racially profiled, detained, and/or deported...

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3 Evoking Sympathy for the Muslim Woman

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pp. 71-99

It is not possible to write about representations of Arabs and Muslims since 9/11 without addressing the quandary of Arab and Muslim women. In innumerable ways, and from both ends of the ideological spectrum, these women have been represented as veiled, oppressed, and in need of rescue. The government...

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4 Regulating Sympathy for the Muslim Man

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pp. 100-131

After 9/11 there were many attempts by government officials, journalists, scholars, bloggers, and citizens to explain why the terrorist attacks happened. The explanations ranged from the one offered by President Bush that there is evil in the world that must be fought by the good and compassionate United States...

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5 Selling Muslim American Identity

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pp. 132-161

In the weeks after 9/11, patriotic advertising campaigns flooded highway billboards, radio, magazines, newspapers, and television. Many corporations directly or indirectly used the tragedy to market and sell their products. General Motors launched a campaign, “Keep America Rolling,” offering zero percent...

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pp. 162-178

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, right-wing activists accused Barack Obama of being a closet Muslim, a secret Muslim, and a sleeper cell agent.1 “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim,” declared the conservative political commentator Debbie Schlussel.2 The proof, critics claimed, was everywhere...


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pp. 179-204


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pp. 205-220


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pp. 221-226

About the Author

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p. 227

E-ISBN-13: 9780814729175
E-ISBN-10: 0814707319
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814707319

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 821733850
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Arabs and Muslims in the Media

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Arabs on television.
  • Muslims on television.
  • Stereotypes (Social psychology) on television.
  • Television programs -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
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