Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America
chapter 1 — updated Sep 03, 2009
(Article by Egyptian/American award-winning author and lecturer Aladdin Elaasar is author of
The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age and Silent
Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. )
1. Why has it been so important for the US government to have a demonstrable enemy like the
Arab Americans and Muslim Americans?
- I do not think that it is important for the US to have Arabs or Muslims as enemies. The U.S.
government is not trying to do that. But because of ill advice, it has alienated many Arab and
Muslim Americans instead of reaching out to them. Many counter-productive policies were
introduced, not intentionally, but out of ignorance, fear, xenophobia and many other things. I do
not think that there was a big conspiracy, but rather misunderstanding on both sides. We, Arab
and Muslim-Americans are partially also responsible due to our passiveness, lack of activism and
2. Can you explain the concept of "The Instant TV Arab Kit"?
- That concept was originally mentioned by Professor Jack Shaheen in his pioneering works such
as TV Arab and Reel Bad Arabs about the crude and ugly stereotypes that are in American pop
culture, TV and movies – which crept into the minds of many other people around the globe. “It
is generally well recognized that Arabs have come under a renewed focus as the villains of
Hollywood, the latest in a series of enemies threatening the foundations of American society and
values. Arabs have been represented as villains since the dawn of Hollywood era, and recent
stereotypes of Arabs abound, as terrorists with political aims, religious zealots, and uni-
dimensional, or even portrayals of submissive, helpless women. There is some evidence,
however, of an emerging voice in American entertainment that questions the negative and value
laden representation of Arabs”, Professor Jack Shaheem explained.
When I asked shaheen about how Arabs are portrayed in American media, professor Shaheen, so
eloquently summed up the decades he devoted watching and monitoring American media as
- “Turn to any channel, to any show and they are always full of Arab baddies - billionaires,
bombers, belly dancers, etc. An episode of popular entertainment program may be seen by 40
million people the first time it is telecast. With returns, the program may attract a total of 150
- Television tends to perpetuate four basic myths about Arabs: they are all fabulously wealthy;
they are barbaric and uncultured; they are sex maniacs with a penchant for white slavery; and
they revel in acts of terrorism. After all, Arabs, like every national or ethnic group are made up
of good decent people, with the usual mix of one-percentners, the bad apple found in any barrel.
- Television executives permit the stereotypes because they do not know much about Arabs, or