Op/Ed: "So Where are Muslims on 'CSI?'" by Diane Winston

May 7, 2006

Source: Los Angeles Times


On May 7, 2006 the Los Angeles Times published an Op-Ed by Knight chair in media and religion at University of Southern California Diane Winston: "Sumaya Abubaker doesn't go to movies much anymore. Nor does she watch television. It's too painful for her to see Muslims stereotyped as terrorists, fanatics and fools. 'You see a scary-looking, heavy-bearded man shouting "Allahu Akbar!" and you know you are going to be disappointed again,' said Abubaker, whose parents emigrated from Yemen. Still, Abubaker volunteered at the 15th annual Media Awards, sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The event, held downtown last weekend, honored the makers of 'Paradise Now' and 'Syriana' as 'voices of courage and conscience.' Coincidentally, the awards were handed out on the same day as the closing ceremonies of the Azusa Street Centennial celebration, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pentecostalism in what is today Little Tokyo. Spurned and derided by the mainstream media of its day, Pentecostalism has become the fastest-growing Christian movement in the world. In Samuel Huntington's 1993 essay, 'The Clash of Civilizations?' the world's 1.3 billion Muslims and 2.2 billion Christians are on a collision course. In truth, they face a common enemy — the mainstream media. The controversy about a Danish cartoonist's depictions of the prophet Muhammad starkly illustrated the problem. But the tension over who chooses and controls images in the media is roiling producers and consumers of news and entertainment. Cultural stereotypes have long been an unfortunate media shortcut. Muslims may be the fanatics du jour, but Pentecostals once wore the label. Even before such movies as 'Elmer Gantry' mocked the fervidly faithful, mainstream newspapers disparaged the behavior of true believers."