After years on TV screens across the United States spent fueling the narrative of Islamophobia and the ongoing so-called war on terror, the popular show “Homeland” has finally come to an end. The show was criticized at times – and rightfully so – for fueling a false narrative about Islam and Muslims.
“Homeland” was particularly notorious because it often portrayed Muslims in only two ways: as terrorists or as people working with the U.S. government. In other words, the show used the same strategy that many shows also use to get high ratings nowadays: Islamophobia.
This was evident throughout many episodes.
The first season dealt with an American prisoner of war who’d been turned into a terrorist while in captivity. Even though later on the show depicted the American government turning him into a double agent going after terrorists, it still did nothing to counter the false narrative of “you’re either with America or you’re with the terrorists.”
Another episode showed the son of a Taliban leader trying to lead the CIA to his father (the son being a double agent working for the Americans), only to be killed by his father (the father being a terrorist) before the CIA lost track of the Taliban leader’s whereabouts. Once again, the message portrayed is that you’re with America or you’re with the terrorists.
If there is one thing that is clear in all of this, then it’s that “Homeland” did nothing to counter the narrative of Islamophobia. They only continued to fuel it.
Here are the facts, though.
The vast overwhelming majority of Muslims both in America and abroad do not support America’s policies in Muslim lands. But that’s it. It’s the policies that America is imposing that Muslims are against. We are not against America’s freedoms. We are not against all Americans. I am an American citizen myself. And I love this country and what it has to offer. What I hate is the policies that America is imposing on Muslims in America and in other lands.
In that regard, Muslims worldwide tend to agree with me on that. For example, many Pakistanis love Pakistan but that doesn’t mean they hate America. Same with Africans, Arabs, Asians, etc. Most of them don’t hate America. They just hate when America flies planes and drones over their heads that could shoot missiles at them at any moment. They hate when American soldiers are in their lands with tanks and machine guns.
In light of this, there are many Muslims who despise American policies but also despise terrorism too. In fact, this is the majority of Muslims in other countries. So they would not collaborate with the United States in its policies but also would not support terrorism either. If anything, a great number of Muslims already speak out against both. They stand in support of justice for the oppressed. Not for one group over another group. And not for one country over another country. But rather for justice.
This was not the case as portrayed in “Homeland” though. And for many Americans who have never met a Muslim in their lives, the only image of Muslims they ever see is in the media and popular culture. And while this show may have ended, the image that it portrayed will remain no doubt. Unless something is done.
So what is it that must be done? Well, we must start by learning about Islam not from the media but from the sources of Islam itself: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We must also study under qualified Islamic teachers and scholars who have dedicated their lives to studying Islam and teaching it to others.
We must also get involved in media. Write op-ed pieces for your local newspaper. Submit opinion pieces to news columns. Work for a local radio station. Call into radio stations, especially when they talk about Islam. We must get our voices out there as Muslims.
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