Anti-Muslim Racism in Social Media Event

The “Anti-Muslim Racism in Social Media” event took place on Wednesday, April 13th at the Statesboro and Armstrong campus. We sat down with Emily Zanieski, President of Model Arab League and Jennifer Dillard, the Vice President of the Arabic Club before the event. Here is a glimpse of the conversation.

Over the years, media has misrepresented the Muslim and Arab community. Media has contributed to Islamophobia by providing negative and misleading information. As stated by Jennifer Dillard, “There is an overabundance on emphasis on Islam militants. If you understand the crime, they’re really not true Muslims. These individuals who are perpetuating terror attacks are not acting in the name of true Islam. That is something I think that is glutted from the news quite often. I think there is a lack of positive coverage regarding Islam. If you actually do some research, Muslims are very philanthropic and do a lot to alleviate poverty, suffering, and advocate for humans rights. I just think that the media misses all of that.”

Due to media’s misrepresentation of the Muslim and Arab community, they have faced many hardships. Emily said, “Not to speak for them but being in the Arab world, traveling to Morocco, talking to my Muslim professor, friends, and the women that were in the panel, I think a lot of the misrepresentation is obviously hurtful because they are kind of showing this very small minority and portraying it as the majority of people and that’s not what the reality is.”

Not only has misrepresentation affected Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans, but it has affected their social circle such as family and friends. This has also affected Jennifer. Jennifer stated that, “The misrepresentation has affected me. I have taken Arabic for a few years now. My sister was having a conversation with some colleagues, and I call my dog a name in Arabic which is a term of endearment. My sister was relaying it to her colleagues, and they said, “What! You let your sister call your dogs a heathen name! Why is she speaking in that heathen language!” And my sister said, “It’s not a heathen language. Arabic has been around for thousands of years.” I was kind of surprised that somebody would associate a language would be heathen in any way.”

There are various rumors about Muslims and Arabs that should be debunked. Jennifer believes that, “the major one that I would like to debunk is that Muslims, especially in the US, are somehow heathen, and number two that you can’t trust them, and number three that they might somehow radicalize, which none of those things are true. I think that there needs to be a campaign that needs to push the narrative that Muslims are just as American as anyone else. People need to see their humanity. These are humans. These are not just some groups of people. They are human, just like you and I.”

To support the community, you can follow the Georgia Southern Languages (@gslanguages) and Middle East Matters (@middleeastmatters) Instagram accounts. You can also follow the Arabic Club Facebook page at Arabic Club at Georgia Southern.