3 ways Muslims can improve their image

Last week, there was a young woman on the air discussing a health care event in Temple Terrace. Samar interrupted the interview to talk about the young woman’s courage in wearing a hijab and staying devout despite the negative portrayal of Muslims in the media.

Samar repeatedly asked the girl if she had ever been mistreated for wearing her hijab. On several occasions, the girl indicated that she was never mistreated. In fact, she said, many people went out of their way to smile at her in the grocery store and make her feel welcome.

How come I can't get that kind of love?

Samar continued to talk about the negative reaction of non-Muslims even though, with this girl’s experience in particular, there was no evidence of it.

Then Samar did what I’ve heard Ahmed do on several occasions, she bemoaned the media’s fascination with misbehaving Muslims. Her guest expressed the same frustration as well. I waited and waited, but at no time did I hear them actually denounce the actions of those misbehaving Muslims. Or come up with any positive ideas that they could control or implement.

I shook my head.

What if I got on the radio and complained that the Irish are too often portrayed as drunk buffoons and Jews as cheap?

I'll tell you what would happen. I'd head back to a family reunion with alcoholic relatives getting drunk off Pabst Blue Ribbon and in-laws arguing over who picks up the check. At some point, they'd all yell at me to quit my bitching.

Look, if Muslims are upset about shitty PR, their solution lies within their own community. Complain, sure, but to those who are defaming that image — not the media for reporting it.

They should take a cue from their Irish and Jewish cousins, two groups historically discriminated against. If Muslims applied the following tips — they too would enjoy more respect and maybe eventually some admiration.

1) Laugh a little: Have you ever seen Al-Jazeera or attended any Muslim group meetings? Even True Talk … these representatives of the Muslim community are about as funny as Rush Limbaugh in a Lortab haze or me with a stick up my ass. Aasif Mandvi can’t be the only comedian of Muslim decent out there muckin’ it up. Tell a joke. Learn to take one. Encourage laughter and people will forget that you scare the shit out of them.

2) Stop taking yourself so seriously: Where would the Jews or the Irish be without self-deprecation? The FBI’s Most Wanted List, that's where, or at the local hospital under suicide watch. Have you people seen yourselves lately? Those scowls and scarfs are as ridiculous as marble rye, pretending wafers are a dead man's body, the Hebrew language or stout beer. You are not above criticism. You are not above a wink and a poke. Get over yourselves. Please.

3) Distance yourself from the batshit crazy element: Yes, Jews have Lieberman and Irish Catholics have Hannity. But they are the exception, not the rule. When Muslims get together and kick out the radical element, only then will fear give way to respect. Don’t keep repeating about how Islam is a religion of peace. Prove it.

It wouldn’t hurt to get a sitcom either. Or a rockin' holiday where everyone gets trashed and sings Middle Eastern songs.

Find the fun in who you are and what you do. When you kick to the curb those people who beat women for showing their ankles, maybe the rest of us will find more about you to like. Ahmed and Samar — hire a sidekick!

(Please don't kill me.)


By Catherine Durkin Robinson

PoHo contributor

Catherine Durkin Robinson is a handful creating quite a scene over at Out in Left Field.

A local show, True Talk on WMNF 88.5, is hosted by Ahmed Bedier (one of my Facebook friends. Represent!) and Samar Jarrah. I’ve been a huge fan of WMNF since its Radical Noise show back in the early 1980s when I was little punk-wanna-be in 8th grade. Its programs, True Talk included, have a certain Wayne’s World feel to them.

Minus the laughs or dick jokes.

On last week’s show, Ahmed called in to talk to Samar remotely. Classic ‘MNF moment — she lost the connection twice. When he finally got on, Ahmed spoke for a few moments before he had to take another call. Then he tried to conference in with someone old enough to remember when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

But that vibe, that “we’re broadcasting from someone’s garage in between bong hits” feel adds to the station’s indy cred and, let’s face it, is part of WMNF’s charm.

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