Thursday, July 5, 2012

Appreciating Islam's Contribution to Civilization

By Parvez Ahmed | | July 5, 2012 | [Original Article]

"Nearly four in 10 Americans hold an unfavorable view of Islam and Muslims. That number has remained steady since 9/11. Several factors contribute to this negative perception, certainly none greater than Muslims, albeit a few, committing terrorism in the name of Islam. The media exasperates this negativity, as aptly noted in Edward Said's 1981 classic "Covering Islam." However, some media outlets are more egregious than others. A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that the majority of Fox News viewers perceive that Muslims want to establish sharia (Islamic law) in America and express the distressing view that Muslims are NOT an important part of America's religious fabric. Nearly seven in 10 viewers of Fox News believe that the values of Islam are at odds with American values. In contrast fewer than four in 10 viewers of public television hold such negative perceptions...

...On Friday, July 6 at 9 p.m. EST, PBS will nationally broadcast a documentary titled, "Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World" narrated by Susan Sarandon. The documentary is a timely reminder about the many contributions made by Muslims to art and culture. As an educator, I am looking forward to this documentary as it adds to a growing collection of well-made documentaries that provide a semblance of balance to the general propensity in the media to stereotype Muslims... [Read More]

... PBS airing yet another documentary about Islam suggests that a small but critical mass of Americans remain open minded about better understanding other cultures and religions. Critics of public radio and television, I am sure, will accuse PBS of a pro-Islam bias. And many Muslims may hastily conclude that the negative attitude of Fox News viewers is representative of the general unawareness of Islam in America. PBS's Friday night national broadcast provides both critics countervailing facts to reconsider their stereotyping..."

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