Since the tragic events of September 11, anti-Muslim sentiment has become increasingly prevalent in America. This phenomenon, referred to by many as “Islamophobia,” has lead to a significant fe! ar of a largely misunderstood world religion. By 2010, TIME Magazine reported that an astonishing 62 percent of Americans had still never met a Muslim. However, much of the American population holds an opinion of this group. “Beyond Burkas and Bombers: Anti-Muslim Sentiment in America” began its research phase in Fall 2011 with production commencing in June 2012. The team traveled to Washington D.C., New York City, Gainsville, and Naples, Florida to discover the effects of post-9/11 anti-Muslim sentiment on the American psyche.
We have set out to open a discussion about a largely marginalized portion of American society, explore how Islam is defined in America, and counter negative impressions and stereotypes of this group. While empowerment can be difficult to implement effectively, it can begin with the simple act of creating a personal connection to breakdown harmful stereotypes. To make this personal connection, we introduce the audience to a young married Muslim couple – an Iraqi, veiled Muslim woman and a Mexican convert to Islam. Delving into their own personal experiences with Islamophobia, award-winning Muslim comedians Dean Obeidallah and The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi explain comedy’s role in combating media’s negative portrayal of the American Muslim minority.