Critical Commentary: Comic Used to Help Fight Islamophobia

Posted on November 30, 2013 by

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kamala

The Muslim stereotype has span the globe for hundreds of years and it still continues today. Westerners often perceive Muslims as violent, hateful, greedy people who are the scum of the Earth. Even I used to be a little prejudice against Muslims mainly because of the way the media shaped their image in America and because of the big terrorist attacks including 9/11. However, Marvel is coming out with a new comic soon that may banish the Muslim stereotype and Islamophobia once and for all.

The new superhero is none other than Kamala Kahn, a strong Muslim woman who Marvel hopes will normalize the identity of Muslims everywhere. Some people think that this new character will help break down fear, terror, and hatred of Muslims across the world. The author of the article I read is obviously in favor of disposing of the old Muslim identity and stereotype, but he isn’t sure that this comic will do just that. From the information there is on Kahn it appears that she is a 16 year old “shapeshifter”, which is a little racist already, who comes from a conservative and restrictive family. She struggles with her identity, being part Muslim and American, that being said the author does not agree with this image of her. He doesn’t think it’s the new, refreshing portrayal of Muslims today, but an old typical stereotype that’s been around forever. The idea that Muslim women are trapped by their families, tradition, and Muslim men is an outdated orientalist stigma that is attached to them. The author, Leon Moosavi, questions whether Kahn will be an empowered woman or just another woman that is shadowed by Muslim men.

In the comic, apparently Kahn has a white male friend named Bruno. Moosavi doesn’t want Bruno to take over the comic and be the one gets the credit for Kahn’s work. There would be no point to the comic about a Muslim superhero if a white male is getting all the glory. Another topic that bother Moosavi is the identity crisis that Kahn faces. It is no more of an identity crisis than anyone else in America and he believes that the fact that she is a Muslim woman should be a minor part of her character and not be inflated at all. He said he wishes the comic was about a superhero that just happened to be Muslim or even just wore a headscarf.  I agree with him on that topic because if they make the comic about her identity crisis that defeats the purpose of them trying to redefine the Muslim image. Being a Muslim should not matter in this comic, or in anything in real life, and the whole point of the comic is to change how we view Muslims in general.

The last point the author makes about this comic is that he doubts one comic with a Muslim superhero will dissuade all those who believe in the Muslim stereotype. First off, not that many people will even see the comic because it is not as popular as it once was. Also, Muslim characters in movies or TV shows will simply overshadow Kahn in the comic. Most movies that has Muslims in them are not kind to them and hit the stereotype hard that it’s impossible for Western audiences not to believe it when it’s in front of their eyes so much. He hopes that this new idea can work and change the way we view Muslims, but he is skeptical of its direction it’s heading.

From my perspective I think it’s good that someone is trying to change the stereotypes of Muslims through something on a little larger scale. However, I agree with the author on all his main points of concern for this comic. He wants to see it succeed and so do I, but the way it is set up I’m not sure how audiences will receive it. Instead of introducing new refreshing images of Muslims today, it seems as if the comic is still focusing on old traditional stereotypes of Muslims that have been around for ages. Islamophobia is a problem in America when it really shouldn’t be. Movies and TV shows usually portray Muslims in a bad negative way, usually involving them being the bad guys, or lecherous and violent. One comic will not change the way Americans view Muslims as a whole, even though I wish it would.

I believe this source from Al Jazeera was highly reliable and there no names or stereotypes that the author used himself. He seemed very neutral and actually even supported the idea that Marvel brought forward. He used facts to back up his opinions and I had to agree with almost everything he said. In the end, he was getting at the fact that Western news programs, and entertainment industries, such as movies, get the most feedback on issues such as this one with Islamophobia. He wants to see Muslims be portrayed fairly and not stereotyped and this comic by Marvel is aimed at doing that, but we’ll see if it works.

Moosavi, Leon. “Why Can’t Spider-Man Convert to Islam?” – Opinion. Al Jazeera, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.

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Posted in: Islam