(Re)presenting: Muslims on North American Television

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This article describes and analyzes the portrayal of Muslims on several North American television shows. Greatest detail is given to the two seasons of Sleeper Cell, the first show on American television created to deal with Muslim lives post 9/11. I deal briefly with Muslim characters on Oz for a look at portrayals of Muslim life pre 9/11. I also mention Muslim characters in Lost and 24 as well as some films to add further insights to my argument. These television dramas are compared with two comedies, Aliens in America as well as Little Mosque on the Prairie, the first Canadian television show to examine Muslim lives. The conclusion is that in dramas, Muslims are not recognized on American television as citizens of their own country, but instead are portrayed as dangerous immigrants with a religion that is both alien and wicked. Moreover, the religion as it is lived out on the television drama is one of violence-there seems to be no other substantive practice that embodies Islamic faith. The case is very different with regard to the television comedy.


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