Arab Portrayals in Film: A History of Stereotypes

Posted by Shadi Matar on March 20, 2015 in Blog
Dr. Jack Shaheen, the author of “Reel Bad Arabs” and “A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in US Popular Culture”, has spent his career analyzing the way Arabs have been portrayed in American film and television over the last century. In 2006, his book “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies People” was adapted into a documentary and shown across the United States and to global audiences. In his book Shaheen asks “What is an Arab? In countless films, Hollywood alleges the answer: Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, oil-rich dimwits, and abusers of women.” Shaheen’s book and documentary highlight the many examples in the American media that portray Arabs and the Middle East with the same repetitive negative stereotypes over the last century.
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What does an Arab festival have to do with losing your bid for mayor?

Posted by on March 09, 2015 in Blog

Every summer since 2006, Chicagoans have looked forward to watching traditional Arab dances, eating delicious Arabic cuisine created by local chefs, and learning about the diversity of Arab culture at the Arabesque Festival. The Arabesque festival was, in part, created by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and ran until 2011. In 2012, that came to an end with the election of Rahm Emanuel.

Ever since Rahm Emanuel was elected as the Mayor of Chicago, the large Arab American community in Illinois has been sidelined from the city’s political discourse. Now, the 30,000+ Arab American voters...

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50 Years After Selma: Our Past, Our Future

Posted by on March 07, 2015 in Blog

Today, President Barack Obama is in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the iconic marches that turned violent. Aptly referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” the march in Selma was an important turning point in the civil rights movement. Worldwide TV coverage broadcast powerful and shameful images of police officers brutally attacking nonviolent marchers who were attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The resulting media attention and government intervention to protect future civil rights marches helped spur the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) just five months later,...

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Obama’s retroactive request for war authority to combat Islamic State is ‘puzzling’

Posted by National Catholic Reporter on February 24, 2015 in News Clips

In 2013, the Islamic State group began an extermination campaign in the Levant, ripping through Syria and later Iraq in a brutal effort to establish a caliphate. In August, the U.S. began dropping bombs in response.

Now, six months later, President Barack Obama is asking Congress for war authority in that fight.

While the threat the Islamic State poses is clear, the president's retroactive request for Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) could be described as confusing.

On the one hand, it proposes to sunset military action after three years and ban "enduring offensive ground operations."...

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Nakba Museum: Of Memory and Hope

Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Blog

In 2011, Bshara Nassar participated in a New Story Leadership program that brought together young Israelis and Palestinians in a powerful learning experience. The program took 10 participants to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which certainly seemed like an appropriate site for reflection. However, he realized that there was not a museum dedicated to showing the suffering of the Palestinian people. Although the program aspired to fairly expose participants to the historical underpinnings of the Israeli and Palestinian narratives on modern history and conflict, Nassar realized that it was missing a key element of the Palestinian experience - which inspired him...

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Syrian Refugees: We’re Not Buying the Security Threat

Posted by Kristin McCarthy on February 13, 2015 in Blog

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, AAI has advocated for increased resettlement of refugees in the United States. Last January, we were pleased to be a part of Senator Durbin’s landmark hearing on the subject that has since led to meaningful action both in Congress and in the Obama administration. Through a State Department led effort, the U.S. will accept up to 2,000 screened refugees for resettlement in 2015 – which is a huge jump from the 284 refugees resettled between 2011 and 2014. Keep in mind that 3.5 million is a modest estimate of the number of...

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AAI Joins 150 Civil Rights Orgs to Demand Federal Action on Chapel Hill Murders

Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Blog

AAI joined a coalition of 150 civil rights organizations in a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Eric Holder imploring him to direct the FBI to open a federal hate crime investigation into the tragic slaying of three Arab American Muslims, Deah Shaddy Barakat (23 years old), Yusor Mohammad Abu Salha (21 years old), and Razan Mohammad Abu Salha (19 years old), who were brutally murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on February 10th.

 With hate crimes targeting Arab Americans and American Muslims on the rise, we expect our country’s highest elected officials and the Department of Justice to...

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Jay Farhat: Moving Jacksonville Forward

Posted by on February 03, 2015 in Blog

When you speak to Jay Farhat you can feel how deeply he cares for the city of Jacksonville, Florida. His dedication and commitment to public service is evident in his 23 year history with the city. It is no wonder that when his family and friends insisted he run for Sheriff, Farhat took it as an even greater opportunity to serve his community. 

Jay’s father immigrated to Jacksonville from Ramallah, Palestine in 1947. He quickly established their family grocery store as a staple business in the community. It was in his family’s grocery store...

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Whitewashed: American Sniper and its Version of the Iraq War

Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Blog

By Maha Elsamahi Winter Intern, 2015

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper about former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, recently, had one of the largest January weekend box office open in recent history.  The star-studded cast brought to life Kyle’s claims to have been one of the deadliest snipers in American History. Despite its apparent popularity with moviegoers, the movie has garnered some criticism over the whitewashed portrayal of its protagonist and the 2003 Iraq war. Still, others praised its sensitive portrayal of a war weary and troubled soldier struggling to adjust to life after the intensity of war....

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Arab and Muslim Americans Had a Rough 2014

Posted by on January 07, 2015 in Blog

With 2015 now underway Arab Americans and American Muslims are hoping that this year will be better for them than 2014. Throughout most of 2014, reports of hate crimes against Arab Americans and American Muslims across the country were frequent and seen on both the micro and macro level. Just last month, a Somali taxi driver was beaten unconscious by three men who accused the driver of being a “terrorist”. This past November the state of Alabama overwhelmingly passed an anti-Islam amendment that was marketed to voters as a ban on “foreign and international laws”. This is

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