NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Fox television network said on Thursday it will provide its stations with TV spots that portray Muslims in a favorable way after it received complaints for featuring followers of Islam as terrorists on its hit television show “24.”
On Monday, Fox premiered the fourth season of “24.” The drama featured an upper-middle class Muslim family operating as a sleeper terrorist cell. The Muslim mother poisons her son’s non-Muslim girlfriend because it was feared the girl could jeopardize the terrorists’ plan.
A Fox spokesman said it would provide public service announcements sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations to its affiliate stations. Local television executives can decide if and when to use the spots.
The move was in response to the Islamic council’s complaints about the show.
“What we are hoping to do is to try and mitigate the damages of the stereotypes because it can bring real-life consequences on American Muslims and their lives here,” said Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Islamic group.
Citing a public opinion survey conducted by Cornell University last year, Ahmed said television influences viewers’ perceptions of Muslims.
“There aren’t any positive or even neutral portrayals of Muslims on TV; whenever Muslims or Arabs are portrayed it is always in a stereotypical way,” she said.
“When average Americans don’t have any personal interaction with Muslims, whether it be at work or at school, they base their perception of Islam and Muslims from what they see on TV,” she added. “We did bring that to Fox’s attention.”