Skip to main content

Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Patriotic Arab Americans, Oppressed Muslim Women and Sympathetic Feelings


Institute For Middle East Studies

After 9/11 there was an increase in sympathetic portrayals of Arabs and Muslims on U.S. television. If a TV drama represented an Arab or Muslim as a terrorist, then the storyline usually included a “positive” representation of an Arab or Muslim to offset the negative depiction. Given that the US government passed domestic and foreign policies that compromised the civil and human rights of Arabs and Muslims, and given that demonizing the enemy during times of war has been commonplace, why would such sympathetic portrayals appear at all?

This talk will review various forms of positive imagery of Arabs and Muslims in TV dramas and news reporting since 9/11 and explain why the production and circulation of “positive” representations of the “enemy” is essential to depicting the United States as a benevolent superpower, especially amidst declarations of war and propagation of racist policies.


  • Dr. Evelyn Alsultany is an Associate Professor in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11 (New York University Press, 2012). She is co-editor (with Rabab Abdulhadi and Nadine Naber) of Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging (Syracuse University Press, 2011), winner of this year's Arab American National Museum's Evelyn Shakir Book Award. She is also co-editor (with Ella Shohat) of Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2012). She is guest curator of the Arab American National Museum's online exhibit, Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes (