Anaheim, CA: The Greater Los Angeles-Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) said March 19 that it had asked ABC Family Channel to meet with Muslim and Arab-American community leaders to discuss concerns about potential stereotyping in the pilot for a new series called "Alice in Arabia."
Media reports indicate that the pilot is "about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them."
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In a letter sent on Tuesday to ABC Family Channel President Tom Ascheim, CAIR wrote in part:
"As the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, we are concerned about the negative impact this program could have on the lives of ordinary Arab-American and American Muslims."
CAIR-LA officials say they understand that the pilot's writer says the series is designed to "give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV" and has "noble intentions," but that community concerns brought to the civil rights organization should be addressed.
"We are concerned that, given media references to the main character 'surviving life behind the veil,' the pilot and any resulting series may engage in stereotyping that can lead to things like bullying of Muslim students," said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. "We urge ABC Family Channel to meet with representatives of the Muslim and Arab-American communities to discuss this important issue."
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Ayloush noted that CAIR has in the past challenged actual and potential anti-Muslim stereotypes in productions such as "Executive Decision," "24," "The Siege," "True Lies," "Rules of Engagement," "Obsession," "The Third Jihad," "Jihad in America," and "The Sum of All Fears."
The Washington-based civil rights organization also acted as a consultant on films such as DreamWorks SKG's "Prince of Egypt."
CAIR is the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.