Archive for the Media Category

The End of America’s Moment? Obama and the Middle East – A Book Review

Posted in Books/Magazines, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2012 by irydhan


Recently I read Fawaz A. Gerges’ latest book, “Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment?” (2012). Gerges is a professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics & Political Science. I must admit, that I was skeptical at first, and did not think there would be anything new, but after reading it, I was shocked to learn some of the insights on US foreign policy over the past almost 70 years since World War II.
Gerges, who also serves as the director of the Middle East Centre at the LSEP, gives valuable historical context from his very detailed research and interviews with top officials in government as well as in the media. He also includes public statements and important behind the scenes information taken from the memoirs of world leaders such as Kissinger, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Netanyahu and many others.
Some items in Gerges book, such as Israel’s influence on US Foreign Policy may be well known to Arabs and Muslims – especially those who live overseas, but many Americans probably do not understand the full breadth of Israel’s strangle hold on the US Congress and the President of the United States.

Read the Rest of the Review Here on Patheos.

“The Qur’an: With or Against the Bible?” – A Book Review

Posted in Books/Magazines, Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2012 by irydhan


Islam and Muslims have been in the news often over the past 11 years. Ever since the tragic events of Sept. 11th, 2001, the US Media has been fascinated to know what the Qur’an – the holy scriptures of Islam, actually teaches and instructs it’s followers to do. Many Muslims, as well as Non-Muslims, unfairly take quotes from the Qur’an out of context and use them to justify acts of violence, ill treatment of people of other faiths, and oppression of women in Muslim countries. Moreover, many practices by Muslims are viewed as Islamic-only.

For example, many people believe that only the Qur’an requires women to cover their head, but how many people know that the Bible instructs women to cover their heads as well, at least when they are praying?

Read the Rest of the Post Here on Patheos

Batman or Ramadan: What’s a Muslim to do?

Posted in Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by irydhan

Check out my latest blog post on Patheos about the “Batman-Ramadan” situation here.

FBI Love (Sung to Tune of Drake’s “Crew Love”)

Posted in Activism, Art, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by irydhan

FBI Love (Sung to the tune of Drake’s “Crew Love”)

[Verse 1]
Get your nose out of our masjid board
What you bothering us for?
There’s a room full of Pakis
What you following me for?
This aint no damn terror plot
So what you trying to entrap us for?
Cause you think we gonna blow like a C4?
Nah, sorry we cant afford to blow like a C4
Undercover agents keep the case going
with their Fake ID’s – throw em in the trash
we going straight to the top
and complaining to the President
With a hand full of dead presidents
nah we all not born foreign
Law enforcement’s been poisoned, from media flowing
so-called Terrorist experts pushing out excrement
they need to clean out their colon
Yea i said, clean out your colon, why?
Cause

[Hook]
They Hatin the Truth

[Verse 2]
Smoking Hookah under star projectors
I guess we’ll never know what FBI friends gets us
But seeing our people get spied on
Took the place of that desire to have police certificates on the wall
And really, I think I like who I’m becoming
There’s times where I might talk like it’s nothing
There’s times when I might blow up
For all my soldiers just to see the looks on all they faces
all it took was patience
I got a lotta friends to come up off the block for me
The same ones that’ll come up off the hip for me
The realest pakis say I’m an ABCD
I told my story, and made history
Tell them I’mma need reservations for 70
I’ve never really been one for the preservation of ego, nah
Much rather be humble and speak the truth while i’m breathing
That FBI and PoPo is everything you believe in, I know

[Hook]

[Outro]
We aint blowing like a C4
Sorry we too poor to blow like a C4
(If you broadcast your concerns, Paki, then your phones gonna be tapped)

Copyright 2012, Irfan Rydhan

Interview about Muslim Media on the “What’s Up Wit’ That Show?”

Posted in Activism, Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by irydhan

Here is an interview I did about Muslim Media on the “What’s Up Wit’ That Show?” in Mountain View, CA:

Review of 2012 Golden Globe Winner for TV Drama: “Homeland”

Posted in Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by irydhan

Recently, I watched the whole first season of the Golden Globe Winning TV series Drama, “Homeland” and was both impressed and also disappointed. The cable series which originally premiered in October 2011 on the Showtime channel is based on an Israeli TV series called “Prisoners of War,” But “Homeland” is about an American Marine Nicholas Brody (played by British Actor Damian Lewis from “Band of Brothers”) who is captured in Iraq and his held captive for 8 years, only to be found by a Delta Force raid on a compound belonging to an Al Qaida terrorist (a character named “Abu Nazir” – played by Iranian-American Actor Navid Neghaban). The main protagonist of the show is CIA agent, Carrie Matheson (played by Claire Danes), who is the only person who thinks Brody is a turned sleeper agent for Al Qaida.

“Homeland” is a lot like “24”, with its moments of intense drama dealing with terrorism, politics and relationships between people.  The show also has excellent writing and great acting.  Because it’s on Showtime, it does contain profanity and adult language as well as some brief nudity – which makes the show much more realistic than “24”.

I was really impressed with the acting of Claire Danes (who won for best actress in a Drama at this year’s Golden Globe awards) and Damian Lewis (Nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes). Claire is very convincing as a paranoid CIA operations officer, who although suffers from Bi-polar disorder (unknown to her supervisors), is the only person who is capable of figuring out what Brody is actually up to.  She tries very hard to convince her mentor and boss at the CIA, Saul Berenson (played by Actor Mandy Patinkin) that Sgt. Brody is a sleeper agent who is about to carry out an attack on the U.S.  Damian Lewis is excellent as his role as an American Hero turned Potential Terrorist who struggles coming to terms with his wife sleeping with his best friend (who both thought he was dead in Iraq), his two young children who barely know him, and the media and government officials who put him on a pedestal as a “War Hero.”

WARNING SPOILERS BELOW

Damian also did a great job at learning Arabic – specifically Sura Fatiha, for when he recites his prayers early in the morning and late at night (He converted to Islam while held captive for 8 years – and “there were no Bibles around” like he explained to Claire’s character when she questioned him about his conversion).

What I liked about the series is that they try their best to show that Terrorism is not as Black and White as most politicians and leaders (on both sides of the world) try to make it out to be.  It’s complicated and involves all kinds of people – from religious, to secular, to family people, to lovers, to government officials, to normal and sane people, who may have been pushed over the edge and sometimes the motive is not politics, but just simple revenge.

In this case, Damian’s character of Sgt. Brody is forced to teach English to Terrorist leader Abu Nazir’s youngest son, while he is held in captivity.  Brody has a young son who was only a few months old, when he went off to Iraq for the War, so naturally a bond develops between Brody and Abu Nazir’s son, as they spend a lot of time together.  Then, like what has happened in real life many times, a US drone attack, which attempts to take out Abu Nazir’s hideout, misses and destroys a madrassa, and kills all 83 children, including Abu Nazir’s son. Sgt Brody is hurt emotionally by the death of an innocent child he has grown to love as his own, and becomes consumed with anger when the Vice-President of the United States is shown on international TV denying that the drone attack even happened. This is when Brody decides that he wants to help Abu Nazir mete out justice to the United States government for killing innocent children.

What I don’t like about the show, and was disappointed in seeing, was that whenever Sgt. Brody makes wudu (cleaning himself with water before doing prayers), pulls out his prayer rug, or reads Tasbeeh (rosary) on his hands – they play dramatic music in the background and imply that he is doing something sinister and about to kill someone (when in reality he is just praying or getting ready to pray to God).  It seems like the writers and producers of “Homeland” are implying that a Muslim who prays is a potential terrorist!

I also found it interesting that the character of Saul Berenson (Carrie’s boss at the CIA) is Jewish (who even talks about growing up as a religious minority in a Christian majority town in the storyline), who is shown to be the most fair-minded, intelligent and respectable person in the CIA. This is not that surprising, because it seems that most of the writers and producers of the show are Jewish, but one would think that they should know better than to scapegoat a whole group of people (Muslims) because of the actions of a few.

I look forward to watching season 2 of “Homeland” (currently being produced), because I enjoy it’s suspense, action and acting, but I hope the writers and producers start to focus less on the “exotic” religious rituals of Muslims, and instead continue to develop the storyline in exposing why people become terrorists and how it can be better understood and in turn better combated.

OUTSOURCED vs. LOWES

Posted in Activism, Art, Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by irydhan

Originally Posted on ILLUME magazine.

Everyone has been talking about the controversy surrounding Lowe’s Hardware stores pulling their advertising from TLC’s “All American Muslim” reality TV show, because of the email campaign from Conservative Christian “Florida Family Association.”

But besides the few email complaints to Lowe’s or signing of petitions online, there hasn’t been much creative response from the Muslim-American community.

That’s when the comedic duo, Rizwan Manji and Parvesh Cheena (of “Outsourced”), along with writer/director Gregoy Bonsignore decided to take matters in their own hands and create the fake ad, “The Un-Aired Lowe’s Commercial.”

We got to talk to the three about why they made the video and what they thought of the controversy about the show.

Why did you guys produce this video?

Rizwan: Myself, Greg and Parvesh were sitting around Parvesh’s place talking about this whole Lowe’s situation and I kept seeing all the reaction all over Facebook and Twitter.  So we thought, as artists we can use our creativity, to make a funny video which makes a point about a greater issue. So within an hour of coming up with the idea, we went down to Lowe’s and started filming it!

Gregory (Director of the video): We wanted to do a satirical piece to show the type of “stereotypical scary” Muslims which the Florida Family Association are so concerned are not being shown on the TV program.  The video was shot on multiple iphones, in case we got kicked out of the store quickly.

Have you guys watched “All American Muslim” and what do you think about it?

Rizwan: Yes, I have seen it and like it.  It’s a typical reality show which shows the daily lives of people and I have been to Michigan before to shoot a film.  It’s an accurate portrayal of the people there, who are very friendly and I enjoy the show.

Gregory: I have watched it and although its format is not very unique, it’s subject – Muslim-Americans is what makes it interesting. It shows that Muslims now have their own reality show like other groups about suburban life in America.

Parvesh: ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM seems harmless. Please. Everyone is the same. We are all Americans. Sheesh.


What do you guys think of the reaction from groups such as the Florida Family Association and Corporations such as Lowe’s who have pulled their advertising from “All American Muslim”?

Gregory: I’m not really surprised with the reactions and totally bigoted response from some of the public, because there is not enough education about Islam in America.  But for a corporation like Lowe’s to react in the way they did, is totally unacceptable.

Rizwan: The biggest shock for me was that Lowe’s sent a letter to the Florida Family Association thanking them for pointing out the concerns of the show and asking them to pull their advertising.  It’s not okay that they caved in this way.

Parvesh: Lowe’s pulling their spots is silly and just so dumb and really foolish for a major company. I liked Lowe’s. I used to love their ads that added the letter T to the end which became Lowe’sT. Ha. Bad Lowe’s. They should apologize!


Do you think there is any correlation with how “Outsourced” was cancelled and the reaction that “All American Muslim” is getting, that the American public is not ready to see different ethnic and religious groups on TV?

Rizwan: There was also a loud and vocal minority who expressed some hatred about Indians and having a show like “Outsourced” on mainstream TV.  There were also some facebook hate groups and websites which made threats against us, but I don’t want to be pessimistic about it.  It was only a small, yet vocal, minority. We did not get any advertisers pulling ads from “Outsourced” and there was a good amount of viewers, but we just ran out of time to increase our viewership.

Parvesh: OUTSOURCED getting pulled doesn’t really have any racial correlation, In my opinion. We just got bad ratings when they moved us to 10:30pm for a show that became popular with families. Bad scheduling killed the show but we gotta move on.

Gregory: As a writer and director myself (Greg was a writer for the show “Lie to Me”), I feel that TV tends to normalize things.  From past shows which had African-Americans and women early on, it helps the viewers to get to know these different types of people which they may not normally get to interact with. I believe it’s important for more shows about Indians, Arab-Americans and Muslims to be on mainstream TV.  We are currently working on a TV pilot about a Muslim American family which we are pitching to producers and hoping to get into development soon.

Rizwan & Parvesh