CAIR Asks Reviewers of FX's 'Tyrant' to Address Stereotypes of Muslim, Arab Culture

FX-logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/20/14) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today asked reviewers to address stereotyping of Arab and Muslim culture inherent in the new FX Networks series "Tyrant" due to air June 24.

CAIR's request comes following a screening of the pilot in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and follows an earlier request for a meeting with network officials to discuss potential stereotypes in the series.

SEE: CAIR Seeks Meeting with FX on Possible Stereotypes in 'Tyrant'

"Tyrant" follows the journey of a California physician who is also the son to the dictator of a fictional Middle Eastern country. In the pilot, the son and his family return home after a self-imposed 20 year exile. The pilot was shot in Morocco, while the series will be produced in Israel. 

In the pilot of FX's 'Tyrant,' Arab Muslim culture is devoid of any redeeming qualities and is represented by terrorists, murderous children, rapists, corrupt billionaires, and powerless female victims," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who attended Wednesday night's screening. "In 'Tryant,' even the 'good' Arab Muslims are bad."

He said the producers of the series claim that it is merely a reflection of the brutal actions of dictators like Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad and Muammar Gaddafi. "Unfortunately, 'Tyrant' will be seen by many viewers as an indictment of an entire culture."

As an Entertainment Weekly reviewer noted:

"Khaled is your classic Big Bad, a guy who trains his children to kill and leaves his son to burn in a terrorist attack. Bassam's older brother, Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), is the arrogant monster you'd expect, slicing one of his detractors with a razor, raping whomever he pleases, and blasting terrible classic-rock anthems from his flashy sports car. ...The problem is that so far they're stock characters. Maybe that's an unfortunate side effect of setting the show in Abbudin, a distant desert land that seems to borrow its real-life events from Egypt, Syria, and Libya. When you give your country a fake Middle Eastern name, you risk turning it into a stand-in for all Middle Eastern countries."

Hooper added that a series producer offered assurances that future episodes will be more "nuanced."

He also expressed appreciation for the efforts of other groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Muslims on Screen and Television (MOST) for working with the producers of "Tyrant" to minimize stereotypes.

CAIR has challenged actual and potential anti-Muslim stereotypes in productions such as ABC Family network's "Alice in Arabia," "Executive Decision," "24," "The Siege," "True Lies," "Rules of Engagement," "Obsession," "The Third Jihad," "Jihad in America," and "The Sum of All Fears."

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, [email protected]; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, [email protected]