New series The Secret Life of Muslims hopes to change the negative beliefs Americans have of Muslims.

If Muslims are now facing the worst of stereotypes, who exactly is responsible for this? Some might say the terrorists are the cause for it. Others may blame the politicians who are using the issue of Muslims as toys in their political campaigns. While both are true and have actually played catalytic roles in increasing anti-Islamic sentiment, the role of media in creating and reinforcing these stereotypes is often ignored.

Whether it is in novels, movies or TV series, how often do we find Muslims playing the roles of soldiers, doctors, teachers, academics or simply, regular people? Joshua Seftel, the Emmy-nominated director behind The Secret Life of Muslims, says these characters are usually portrayed with a negative connotation. The Secret Life of Muslims is a series of short films based on real life stories shared by Muslims. Seftel, who is himself Jewish, believes the discrimination against Muslims must stop and the stereotypes the community faces are completely redundant.

This is a truly commendable move by Seftel, especially as research shows about 55 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Muslims. Another research study showed 45 percent of Americans did not believe Muslims are part of what they envision to be the ideal American society. Seftel hopes the series will help Americans to see Muslims for what they are, regular people who, just like anyone else, want a peaceful life.

Seftel said, “I grew up in a part of Upstate New York where there weren’t a whole lot of Jews and I faced discrimination and some bullying for being Jewish as a kid. That has stayed with me. It’s deeply upsetting to see the kind of discrimination that is happening right now in the U.S., so if we can help create understanding in some small way, that would make me happy.”

He understands the pain and trauma a person can go through just because he belongs to a different system of faith. He believes this not how people should live and the way in which American media portrays Muslims is very disturbing. One of the examples is the story of Ahmed Ahmed, an Egyptian-American actor who was always contracted to act in roles that portray Muslims as criminals and terrorists, until the day he decided to put an end to it.

The main aim of The Secret Life of Muslims, as mentioned on the website, is to reverse the stereotypes people have towards Muslims by showcasing how the community has done phenomenally well in various fields. The series was launched last Wednesday on Vox.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter