On Monday, February 6th, Communications Coordinators Amina Sharif and Aymen Abdel Halim presented a lecture on Islam and the media for a class at DePaul University in Lincoln Park. The class, entitled “Media and Islam”, provides students with the opportunity to examine how Islam has been covered in the news media since the September 11th, 2001 attacks in New York City.
The class is taught by Professor Marda Dunsky, who is the author of Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Dunsky’s objective with this course is to allow students to survey U.S. mainstream media coverage of the Muslim world via examples of print and broadcast reporting by newspapers, news magazines, cable and broadcast TV networks, radio, and associated websites. The class is rooted in media theory – and in particular, framing theory – to provide students with the tools to help conduct analyses and critiques of the representation of Islam in the media.
CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinators Amina Sharif and Aymen Abdel Halim were invited to Dunsky’s class to discuss the Communications Department’s work in providing more fair, accurate, and diverse portrayals of Muslims in U.S. media, as well as to shed light on the history of Muslim representation in the media and how it subsequently effects Muslim-American communities. While Sharif explained to students how the CAIR-Chicago Communications Department utilizes media to advocate for Muslim-Americans, Abdel Halim focused on how negative representations of Islam in the media are tied to socio-political contexts and Muslim societies’ relationships with the U.S.. He also elaborated on how these negative portrayals subsequently affect Muslim-Americans.
Sharif and Abdel Halim’s presentation was met with various thoughtful questions and comments from the class; highlighting the students’ media literacy skills and ability to ask critical and engaging questions regarding portrayals of Islam in the media. Dunsky’s contributions to Sharif and Abdel Halim’s lecture also provided the opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of framing theory to their analysis and discussion of Muslim representation in the mainstream media.