was relating how after her daughter had read the Da Vinci Code, she had wanted
to read the Bible. Which is not in itself a bad thing except that she was
concerned that an impressionable young mind would not be able to differentiate
fact from fiction. Also it seemed that perhaps what was needed is a Da Vinci
Code-type book for Muslims to spark off the same level of interest in young
people in their own religion.
that if anyone tried to write a similar thriller based around Islam, they'd be
hounded and pilloried and threatened with death, thousands would riot in protest
and people who would never have been able to read the book either because they
are illiterate or can't afford it would have died. Such is the difference
between our religions.
there are many Christians who are upset about the book and movie, they are
countering it with seminars and other educational events to balance what is
being said in the book, even if the book is only fiction. There have not been Da
Vinci Code-related riots or deaths thus far. Which speaks volumes for the
adherents of the faith.
be nice if everyone could brush off similar challenges and say "we are strong
enough to withstand any attack". Even if a book or a movie becomes a runaway
hit, compared to the total number of any faith's followers, the numbers sold can
never match it. Books are by nature, in a world where illiteracy is still
common, a luxury item. As are American movies, no matter what arguments people
make about cultural imperialism.
when there were riots over Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses, President
Benazir Bhutto commented wryly that the people who were dying over the book were
those who would never have read it, or possibly even heard of it if someone
hadn't whipped them into a frenzy. A similar situation arose with the cartoons.
As insensitive as they were, they were still not worth dying over.
is that people's impressions of a religion are often related to the behaviour of
its adherents. Some religions are thought of as simply kooky because its
followers behave strangely. Some are viewed as benign and peaceful because its
followers resolutely will not harm a fly. But when people, supposedly in the
name of religion, riot, burn and kill, it can't help but give the impression of
a religion that advocates this, no matter how much we point out that nowhere in
religious texts itself does it say you should do this.
unfortunately we get the whole spectrum, from men who publicly insult women on a
daily basis without censure to the real crazies. Recently in New York I had to
suffer the embarrassment of having to listen to a Muslim man say to a non-Muslim
woman at a forum, "Don't mess with Muslims, we have nuclear weapons!" There I
was trying to dispel stereotypes about violence-prone Muslims and in one fell
swoop, this nutcase confirmed every stereotype there was.
the only people who can dispel stereotypes about Muslims are women. While there
are certainly some conservative women, even when these speak out they will
naturally change perceptions because in a world where Muslim women are perceived
to be perpetually hidden behind curtains, their sheer presence and
articulateness will be noticed. What more if they are able to argue rationally
in a calm manner.
there have been very few Muslim men in the international media who give a good
impression. We might argue that the Western media selects who they interview in
order to perpetuate stereotypes, which is true and that is a problem for all of
us. A man or woman who looks like the archetypal wild-eyed conservative is far
more telegenic than someone who looks like everyone else. Channel surfers are
far more likely to stop at the sight of someone they think of as alien to their
culture than if they see someone too similar to them.
this means having to make a concerted effort to come together as one community
and decide on a sophisticated media strategy. But sadly coming together as one
united community is a challenge in itself. If we do manage as a global community
to change other people's perceptions of us, the benefits would be many. Our own
people might think more kindly of each other so peace would reign within. And
because within ourselves, we respect diversity, we can do the same with others.
Then peace would truly have a chance.