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Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s “Invasion!”
Articles, Essays, Volume 3

Mass Media Muslims: A Three Lens Theory of Representation

Mass Media Muslims: 
A Three Lens Theory of Representation
By Jamil Khoury
Arab StagesVolume 2, Number 1 (Fall 2015)
©2015 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

I think a lot about the representation of Muslims, particularly the representation of Muslim diasporas, and especially the representation that occurs on stage. But what happens on stage rarely begins on stage. Images have a way of filtering up, gestating first in mainstream media before seizing dramatic license. The mass media manufactures Muslims, and playwrights—ideally—provide context. So indulge me in a little theorizing and a propensity for thinking in threes. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

Let’s begin by analogizing twentieth-century representation of gay men and lesbians with twenty-first-century representation of Muslims. Let’s presume we are referring to North American representation. And, for the sake of subjective clarity, let it be known that I am a theatre producer, a playwright, a cultural activist, a gay man, a mixed blood Arab American of Syrian Christian heritage married to a Pakistani American Ismaili Shi’a Muslim. In other words, my household is an ISIS/Al Qaeda worst-case scenario. We’re a Wahhabi nightmare. We’re not supposed to exist. Now that I got that out of the way, on to the analogy.

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