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As part of the Arab Strategic Forum 2024 held in Dubai yesterday, in a session titled “A Brief History of the Portrayal of Arabs in the Global Media,” journalist Bassem Youssef examined the misperceptions of Arabs in the global media. The session discussed the ways in which all media organizations can present… a speech based on strong arguments to correct the wrong stereotypes about the region in the minds of Western people.
The session touched on the limited Arab influence in the international film industry as the session presented proposals and solutions to help bring Arab talent into the industry, including writers, directors and actors.
During the session, journalist Bassem Youssef said: Some films in Hollywood always portray Arab characters as terrorists, and some children's films portray Arabs negatively and show that the Arabic language is frightening.
He added: “Seven years ago, a veiled woman was talking on the phone at an American airport (God willing), and security was informed about her and prevented from boarding the plane.”
Bassem Youssef points out that Arabs are normalized and films are shown in a “backward” way until they are in the minds of international audiences, and even now, in the war on Gaza, images of brutal bombings are attached. Bad Arabs” are the ones who caused the confusion.
He continued: “This mentality is reflected anyway in some Western media reporting the killing of civilians using the word 'they are dying' as 'killing' or using headlines such as 'Church exploding' instead of 'Church.'”
Bassem Youssef notes that many minorities have succeeded in improving their image in the media, pointing to what Jews, Latinos, Asians, and African Americans have done to improve their representation in real life and cinema.
Bassem Youssef touches on two stories about how Arabs contributed to saving Jews during the Holocaust. The first is the story of the imams of Algeria, Germany, who saved Jews from the Nazis, and the Egyptian doctor Mohammed Helmi, who saved hundreds of them. Jews since the Holocaust.
Bassem Youssef called for a redoubled effort to correct the misrepresentation of Arabs in the eyes of the West, and pointed out that the primary reason is to promote Hollywood and raise awareness of the reality of what is happening in Gaza. The role and use of social media by young people.
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