Stereotypes of Muslims.
People tend to generalize things and events. Especially if it concerns the most disputable and controversial issues. Unfortunately it may cause serious problems. People are different and not many of us are okay with it. Let’s see what westerners tend to think of Muslims.
Due to the political and war conflicts in the East many have negative notion of Muslim culture and traditions. Negative representation appeared for the first time in mass culture. Such movies as The Sheik (1921), The Song of Love (1923), The Black Stallion (1979) are depicting the Arabs as cunning and opportunistic individuals. In fact stereotypes regarding the Arabs and Muslim culture stem from mass culture. People are affected by it and are sure that they know pretty much about Muslim traditions and customs.
As the rule people have very simple and unpleasant ideas regarding Muslim culture. Thus usually the Arabs are shown as terrorists or wealthy men. They do not respect and appreciate their women. Arab women are treated badly and disrespectfully. Usually women are accepted as sexual objects. As the rule Arab women are depicted as belly dancers who have no rights and freedoms. Their lives are controlled by their fathers and brothers. Women are dependable on males. Sometimes they are even forced to commit crimes.
Mazin B. Qumsieh (the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) thinks that all the stereotypes the Americans have about the Arabs are deliberate and initiated by politicians. He explains his point of view, “Some in the Arab community in the US believe that there is a widespread effort now to create the “Muslim terror” as the replacement enemy now that communism is not a threat. In other words, to justify our continued massive military and the billions of dollars we send to Israel every year, we need a demonstrable enemy who will not go away”.
The situation got worse after 9/11. According to the official line the hijackers were Muslims. After the tragedy many became more suspicious and mistrustful of the Arabs. Mostly they are portrayed as terrorists and murderers who are responsible for the attacks.
Qumsieh adds, “We now minimize state-sponsored terrorism (such as that which Israel, Turkey, and other allies engage in) and portray the threat in terms of religious and ethnic groups”. The Arabs are portrayed as conservative and orthodox who have no common sense. It causes serious conflicts between the Americans and the Arabs living in the United States.