CAIR: Muslims Voice Concern over Portrayal of Terrorists on '24'

By Lauren Beckham Falcone

The plot of the hit Fox drama "24" may make for exciting television, but Muslim groups fear their representation as terrorists does more than entertain - it vilifies an entire religious group.
"I think that TV has quite an effect on how people think," said Nadeem Mazen, past president of the MIT Muslim Association. "So much of what we hear on Muslims is hearsay - an expert opinion by people with a personal agenda and not necessarily motivated by truth. And then a show like this comes along that perpetuates the 'them' factor."
The plot of the sixth season of "24" takes place two years in the future and is the most fear-mongering to date. America is being bombarded by Islamic suicide bombers, the president's chief of staff sets up Muslim internment camps, civil rights and privacy laws are more flexible than Mary Lou Retton and the seemingly sweet Muslim teenager next door happens to be a terrorist complicit in the first nuclear attack on American soil.
Of course, it's a show. But TV not only reflects the zeitgeist - it also influences it, some say, meaning the writers of "24" have to be careful, said Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"I saw '24' (on Monday) and we do have concerns with the show," Ahmed said. "We are monitoring it and will be contacting our contacts at Fox to discuss those concerns."
According to Ahmed, her organization and the creators of "24" have a good relationship - in fact, two years ago, when a Muslim family was depicted as terrorists, they listened to the concerns of the Muslim community.
"After we met with them, they understood where we were coming from and took measures to ameliorate and mitigate the damages of the (plot), including running a public service announcement," she said. "Like all Americans, we like a good show and a good drama. But as an advocacy group, we have to consider the image and interest of our community." (Courtesy Boston Herald)

Fox Entertainment Group sent the following statement to CAIR:
24 is a heightened drama about anti-terrorism. After 5 seasons, the audience clearly understands this, and realizes that any individual, family, or group (ethnic or otherwise) that engages in violence is not meant to be typical.
The show takes great pains to ensure that all characterizations are seen in the overall context of the series. "Bad guys" may ultimately be good and those that seem to be guardians may in fact be the worst kind of criminals. Even the show's hero, Jack Bauer, is seriously flawed. It's that acknowledgement of the diverse nature of the show's characters that makes 24 such a compelling series.
Over the past several seasons, the villains have included shadowy Anglo businessmen, Baltic Europeans, Germans, Russians, Islamic fundamentalists, and even the (Anglo-American) president of the United States. Over the course of the series, no ethnic group has been singled out for persecution or blame. In fact, the show has made a concerted effort to show ethnic, religious and political groups as multi-dimensional, and political issues are debated from multiple viewpoints.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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