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News article for the week of 3/9/09.

American Muslims Shrugging Off Stereotypes
By Grey Events

Between the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fact that no one can look good in a beard the same way they can, Muslims around the world are finding themselves stuck with blame and stereotypes they do not deserve.
And while attitudes are hard to change they are being chipped away at, for while most Americans would prefer to walk the street with Muslims slightly more than take their chances with traffic owing to a perceived increase in Asian drivers, there is a growing sense that there is more to the culture, and fewer differences, than many imagine.
One myth that is slowly dissolving away is that all Muslims are terrorists bent on destroying America or have lost two to seven fingers to Jack Bauer’s efforts to prove they are terrorists. Missing fingers being taken as a sign of innocence.
Similarly the stereotype that all Muslims are Arabic or 60’s folk singers, and that all Arabs are Muslims. There is some understanding that many African Americans take up the Muslim faith, however reveal that there are white Muslims, even Asian Muslims, and many will disbelieve, think, then accept when they realise that this means there are Christian Arabs, not to mention Islam being a lot easier to understand than most Buddhism.
Not all is quite so positive, some stereotypes are strong enough to retain a hold over the general populous.
One particularly stigmatic idea is that all women are second class in Muslim culture, which is ironic and hypocritical considering how many men wish their women were second class citizens.
The truth is, no woman, anywhere, ever, has ever been truly second class. Why else would men keep doing damn stupid things to impress them, like war, monuments, game shows, and chocolate?
Honestly I really think we have a chance with chocolate.
Furthermore studies have shown that in the US Muslim women have many of the same opportunities and options as Christian, Jewish, Atheist and Hindus of the same nation, and possibly more than the average Jehovah’s Witness woman, or a fan of the Pussy Cat Dolls of any gender.
One critical rumour that is resulting in an increasing number of assaults against Muslims is that Muslims guard a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. This has led to severe beatings in these hard economic times as people try desperately to get their hands on that sort of cash, and even more severe beatings from the Irish community who see Muslims as stealing their free drunken fights by taking away the one excuse anyone had to throw a punch at them.
Muslims are not alone in their fight, many key figures and celebrities are siding with them, helping to dispel the myths that have built up. Brad Pitt has said he considers falafels to be a foodstuff, George Clooney has spoken out repeatedly about the long and rich culture of the Muslim world, and Oprah keeps telling people what to do, resulting in a slow swelling of, if not good feeling then at least less guarded neutrality.
Tom Cruise, George W. Bush, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson have all spoken out in support of the Muslim community, and Michael Jackson keeps saying that he wants to become one. Clear proof that while progress is being made there are still major threats to the image of these fine people.

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