Altmuslimah has officially launched its photographic campaign – aimed at providing an alternative to the dominant media image of oppressed Muslim women and angry Muslim men.
The purpose of Altmuslimah’s visual campaign is to present Muslim men and women multi-dimensionally, figuratively speaking. The collection highlights the literary contributions of empowered Muslim American women; telling portraits of tenacious Muslim females, young and old; warm, loving Muslim men; the purity of spiritual devotion; and the dynamics of positive gender interaction in Islam.
The importance of the campaign is highlighted by Louise Cainkar in her recent book, Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11:
Popular consent for aggressive collective policies [is] built on the successful leveraging of widely held public understandings that Arabs and Muslims have some kind of inherent leaning toward violence and terrorism and that those who do not actively engage in violence probably silently support it … Notions such as these had been graphically reinforced in the American media and popular culture through images that represented Arab and Muslim life principally through portrayals of evil men and mob scenes contextualized by themes of anger, violence, and rote behavior … Such scenes conveyed the idea that Arab and Muslim societies lack the capacity for individuality, diversity, rational thought, or choice and instead characterized by wide-spread organic solidarity and collective unanimity. A complementary schemata was that Arabs and Muslims lack the very human values and feelings shared by other groups, for example, that they feel joy upon death. In other words, they are not like “us.”
Mona Eltahawy, an award-winning syndicated columnist and an international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues, also highlights the over-simplicity of the imagery in mass media:
Angry Bearded Muslim Man is the favorite. Whenever the Muslim world is supposed to be upset or offended, invariably that story is illustrated by images of Angry Bearded Muslim man: marching (usually in Pakistan), shouting (fists raised in the air in righteous anger), and burning something (an American flag, an Israeli flag, preferably both!)
His female counterpart is Covered in Black Muslim Woman. She’s seen, never heard. Visible only in her invisibility under that black chador, burqa, face veil, etc.
In those images you have conveyed all you want to say about Muslims: the men are angry, dangerous and want to hurt us; the women are just covered in black.
As Louise Cankar told Altmuslimah, “Altmuslimah’s efforts to expand the available imagery of Muslims is critically important— because those who seek continued Muslim exclusion from American life and its discourses, and a host of other societies and discourses, benefit from simplistic, one-dimensional images of Muslims that cast them as ‘others’, as people not like ‘us’. As long as it remains socially acceptable to portray Muslims in these negative and deceptive ways, our societies will be unable to move forward: to step up and out of the politics of hatred.”
We’re now featuring animated slideshows on our main page – check out the upper right hand corner of the site. Every other week, we’ll feature a different video that will include photos and artwork from artists across the world. Interested artists: please send us your images at asma.uddin(at)altmuslimah.com, and we’ll make the video for you!
Altmuslimah would also like to help spread the message by offering the embed link to other sites interested in featuring our photos. If you are a blogger or run a web magazine or other website, and are interested in supporting this mission to change the dominant image of Muslim men and women, please contact us.
Drawings done by the members of an association of female Muslim cartoonists, formed for the express purpose of countering blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad:
Paintings from the Breaking the Veils exhibit:
Muslim men are kind, loving .. and colorful! Check out the resplendent diversity of our men:
The many faces and personalities of an incredibly diverse community. Featuring ladies first, here are the many faces of Muslim women:
Muslims from around the world celebrating their religious holiday. Eid Mubarak!
Muslims making a difference in our nation’s capital – co-ed interaction for a greater good:
Our current video is a bit on the playful side. Muslim modesty can be fun, after all!
This campaign is a photo documentary of a photo documentary! Check out Sadaf Syed’s iCover: a day in the life of an American COVERed girl.
This video showcases both Lucy Marryat photographic journey of Oman, and Yoshi (Yusuf Misdaq’s) musical talent:
This video features the cast and characters of Wajahat Ali’s The Domestic Crusaders:
Asma Shikoh’s quintessentially American-Muslim art is the focus of this video:
Our previous video showcased the joy and camaraderie of IMAN’s Community Cafe in New York City:
In our third video, you’ll see select photos from Derek Brown’s exhibit: Iran 2008: Faces and Places from Inside Iran:
Our second video showcased Heba Amin’s artwork from the children’s book, Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World:
Our first video featured the photography of Paula Lerner:
Asma T. Uddin is Editor-in-Chief of Altmuslimah