Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Islam and Images

In class this week we will be discussing two articles related to Islam's perception of images within the media. Being the season of Ramadan we will first look at Armburst's article “The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the ‘Christmasization’ of a Muslim Holiday”. Here we see concerns about the commercialization of Islam and debates about advertising images during Ramadan. What does this article tell us about Muslim views of images and the media? Other helpful articles on this topic include "Ramadan Advertising in Egypt" which appeared in the Journal of Media & Religion.

Also for more information on Ramadan check out the following link or here for a virtual Haji experience. Also for another example of a Ramdan Advertising see this youtube video.

We will also be discussing the controversy surrounding decision of a newspaper to publish a Cartoon of Prophet Mohammad Cartoons, published in Denmark in 2005. This even received much media attention both overseas and in the USA. Jensen played a significant role during the crisis in interpreting the controversy for the press and acting as a liaison with the Danish Muslim community. He unpacks some of the core issues surrounding the situation and international response in "The Cartoon Crisis Revisited: A Danish Perspective”. What does this article argue was at the heart of the controversy? What does this article say about the Muslim community's view of the media related to this event?

For more information on the Cartoon crisis check out this report by the USC Center on Public Democracy.


t_elizondo said...

In his article, “The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture, and the “Christmasization” of a Muslim Holiday,” Walter Armbrust argues that a certain television program associated with Ramadan is secularizing this holiday through commercialization. At first, a program that poses riddles to viewers seems harmless, but one must understand the spirit of Ramadan in order to ascertain if the damage Armbrust claims is done is, indeed, real.

To Muslims, Ramadan is not a time of excess, even when daylight hours are over, marking the end of the fast. However, this progam, called Fawazir Ramadan, airs as soon as the last prayer of the day is done, and a glamorized host appears on the TV, offering expensive prizes to the viewer who figures out the riddle. In addition, the music accompanying the program is hardly traditional; Armbrust mentions that the music is heavy with harmony, a quality more characteristic of Christmas than of Ramadan.

Today, most Muslims tune into this program. However, Fawazir Ramadan has no historical basis. It is Armbrust’s opinion that the media, by airing this secular program exclusively during Ramadan, has started a new tradition and therefore has a very strong hold on Islam today.

Emily said...

In his article The Cartoon Crisis Revisited: A Danish Perspective, Tim Jensen discusses the implications of and lessons learned from the printing of The Face of Muhammad in Denmark. In The Face of Muhammad, a number of cartoons were published mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad. This caused a serious backlash among Muslims, which included the burning of embassies in Muslim nations and a boycott of Danish goods, that only intensified when the cartoons were reprinted in other countries.

The refusal of the Danish government to punish the newspaper that printed the cartoons was, as the UN Special Rapporteur said, "trivialisation of Islamophia at the political level." Jensen asserts that the cartoon crisis, as these events became known, intensified the already high tensions between Islam and the West. Osama bin Ladin called the cartoons another sign of "the Western crusade against Islam," while many in the West "had their images of the enemy confirmed" by the violent Muslim backlash shown in the media.

According to the article, the cartoon crisis emphasized the growing debate over the need for self-censorship in the media. Jensen states that it is "a prerequisite for civilized cooperation and coexistence." Also, the crisis demonstrated the fact that religion can't be regarded as an isolated issue. It affects all parts of life, including politics.