[NOTE: Later today, representatives of CAIR-National, CAIR-LA, the Muslim
Public Affairs Council, and the Southern California Muslim community will
meet with Fox officials and the co-creator of "24."]
CONTACT: CAIR-National Spokesperson, Rabiah Ahmed, 202-439-1441; CAIR-LA
Communications Director, Sabiha Khan, 714-776-1847 or 714-390-0334, CAIR-LA
Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, 714-776-1847
'24'S' LATEST PLOT TWIST PAINS SOME MUSLIMS
Dana Parsons, Los Angles Time, 1/12/05
Premiering against the backdrop of post-Sept. 11 America, "24" has always
been about figuring out terrorist plots, but this year it will test viewers
in a different way.
The story line so far: A seemingly normal, upscale Muslim family is a
sleeper terrorist cell. We've learned that Mom and Dad are knee-deep in a
plot that has resulted in a train derailment and the kidnapping of the U.S.
defense secretary. And that they've actively involved their teenage son.
Not to mention that in Monday's episode, they ordered him to shoot his
non-Muslim girlfriend because she stumbled onto information that could
prove dangerous to them.
"24" comes through again. Can't wait till next week.
Then again, I'm not the Muslim living next door. I'm a blue-eyed boy from
Nebraska, immune to cultural stereotypes.
Thus, the test. In an era where Americans are fearful of attack from
Islamic fundamentalists, will a TV show depicting "normal" people as
terrorists deepen our paranoia? Will it lead to violence against Muslims or
The easy answer is to say that of course, everyone realizes that. But it's
not quite that simple, says Sabiha Khan, a spokeswoman for the local
chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, headquartered in Anaheim.
She's not a "24" fan but has seen this year's episodes and is worried.
Today, in fact, she and other CAIR officials will take their concerns to
Fox in Los Angeles.
CAIR doesn't want to curtail Fox's creative license, Khan says. However,
CAIR is concerned that the depiction "will contribute to an atmosphere that
it's OK to harm and discriminate against Muslims. This could actually hurt
CAIR doesn't expect Fox to dump the story line but might ask that it
consider ways to mitigate it in future episodes. "We're realistic," Khan
says. "We're not asking for something that can't be done."
It would be naive to dismiss Khan's concerns. At this point in American
history, it's an unfortunate fact of life that some people harbor unfair
suspicions of Muslims in our midst.
So while I tout "24," how does my favorite show look like through Khan's eyes?
"It was almost like a heart-sinking, crashing feeling down to the floor,"
she says. "Just being attacked, seeing your religion attacked, which, if it
is the essence of your being, is a very difficult thing to take. You feel
mixed emotions - anger, disappointment, hurt."
The "24" terrorist family, she says, "is not a family I've ever known. None
of the 9/11 hijackers had that kind of family…. It's not really based on
any reality of what we [in America] are going through..."