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Islamophobia in Action: ABC Catches it Live!


abc-muslim.JPGFor those who stubbornly insist that Islamophobia is nothing but a figment of the Muslim imagination (read this: Islamophobia Part-1: It Exists), ABC News has pretty much proved you wrong. Islamophobia is very real and does indeed exist in this very country.

On the Tuesday night (2/26/08), ABC aired its primetime series entitled What Would You Do? (video below sleeve), in which a controversial scenario is staged with hidden cameras to see how the public would react to such a situation. Last Tuesday’s episode included a scenario in a popular bakery with one actor playing a female Muslim customer wearing hijab and another playing a bigoted store clerk who refused to serve her based on her being Muslim and insulted her with all kinds of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discriminatory remarks.

The reaction of the public was disturbing to say the least, but unfortunately, not surprising. According to ABC News, the majority of bystanders witnessed the incident yet chose not to get involved, largely due to approval of the clerk’s actions. A minority did speak up… some in defense of the Muslim customer (expressing their disgust to the clerk and threatening to boycott the bakery). While others, unfortunately, actually spoke up in support of the bigoted clerk’s actions. The ABC News article states:

Even though people seemed to have strong opinions on either side, more than half of the bystanders did or said absolutely nothing. This is a familiar reaction for many Muslims such as Javed, [a Muslim-American woman]. “I was shocked because when these things happen to me in real life … I never see what happens after I walk out of that store,” she said. “I would try to justify … that they probably didn’t hear it … when I watched it, I realized, no, they hear it and they see it and they’re okay with it.”

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The broadcast seems to point out that, while there are some good hearted Americans out there who did stand up for the rights of the Muslim customer, the majority of the public are still quite indoctrinated with Islamophobia. So much so that they are OK with a store refusing to serve a customer based on religion albeit illegal according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to ABC News, one customer said afterwards, “I really think that a person who owns his own business should be able to say who they sell to.”

Perhaps this isn’t the most accurate sampling of the American people, as this experiment occurred in Waco, Texas, where one might expect to find perhaps a bit more racism and Islamophobia, but in any case, the outcome paints quite a depressing picture. So, to all the Islamophobes out there reading this… guess what, ABC News just proved your existence, so stop living in denial! Accept that Islamophobia DOES exist and it is destroying the moral fibers of the very society we live in!

I urge all our Muslim readers to write to ABC News and thank them for running this special on Islamophobia. You can comment on the website of the article, or better yet, write to ABC News directly thanking them for this service.

Also, our MM staff writer, Sr. Ruth, has written on her blog about her perspective on this special, so be sure to check that out as well.

[youtube 8czPXxwbg5U]

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.



  1. Amad

    February 29, 2008 at 9:30 AM

    This is my message to ABC. I encourage everyone, like Br. Ahmad, to write to ABC (preferably) or leave a comment. The comment may get lost in the nearly 900 comments already online. So, that is why writing an email directly to ABC is preferred:

    Thank you ABC for highlighting Islamophobia.

    It is amazing that in the face of overwhelming evidence, there are people still willing to put the wool over their eyes and believe that there is no bigotry and no prejudice against a people, merely based on their religious beliefs. Is this what the founding fathers of the country wanted America to become? How would Presidents Washington or Lincoln felt seeing a Muslim woman treated like the way your actor was?

    I also find it amusing that instead of focusing on the content of the programming, some of the hateful comments have focused on the witch-hunt against CAIR. IF CAIR was truly a “terrorist” outfit, it would have been shut down a long time ago. There is not a SINGLE indictment, let alone guilty verdict, against the ORGANIZATION. What individuals may have done on their own time is their own business. Where is the justice when an organization can be blamed for the independent actions of its members or employees?

    Regardless, this programming was NOT about CAIR. It was about Islamophobia. And Islamophobia exists, with OR without CAIR.

  2. Abdullah

    February 29, 2008 at 10:41 AM

    Nery +D = nerdy Movie HA


  3. Organic Muslimah

    February 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    Wow. Thanks for posting.

  4. Umm Reem

    February 29, 2008 at 1:36 PM

    Alhamdullialh….rays of hope!

  5. Hid

    February 29, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    How can i watch the entire video?

  6. theManOfFewWords

    February 29, 2008 at 3:21 PM

    wow … so there is such a thing as Islamophobia …

    hmm … and I thought Muslim were loved.

  7. Amad

    February 29, 2008 at 4:24 PM

    you can see it on MR’s blog and the ABC site:

    MR’s location:

  8. Mass

    February 29, 2008 at 9:12 PM

    Islamophobia is not just a recent phenomena its not because of 9 11 nor of the Iranian revolution but rather from a series of conflicts, confrontations and encounters of Muslims and Europeans since the early spread of Islam, ( the books) “Orientalism” and “Covering Islam” by Edward Said would have good insights relative to this post.. Which would be highly recommended for Muslim who engage in Social Sciences.

  9. theManOfFewWords

    February 29, 2008 at 9:51 PM

    Mass, Islamophobia began 1400 years ago … it didnt start with conflicts between Muslims and Europeans.

    See that’s what happens when people buy into European ethnocentrism. They start thinking of everything in terms of how it affects Western civilization.

    The first Islamophobes were the mushriks of Mecca … and they certainly werent the last. But one thing we can be sure of … “inna shani’aka hu al abtar”

  10. Manas Shaikh

    March 1, 2008 at 1:13 AM

    It was like a little open secret. The islamophobes were in denial. I think Muslimphobia (which is closely associated with Islamophobia) is a form of racism, and it should be portrayed as such. Because racism is a word that gets the message through better than Islamophobia (sounds too scientific).

    As an aside, I saw that Muslims are quite far behind in terms of education and earning. Lagging far behind Jews and Hindus.

    Not that education and money are important by themselves. They are important for helping the Deen. The purpose is what decides whether it is good or bad.

    I guess it will help the Deen and the Muslims if we can get more into business and high profile jobs.

  11. darthvaider

    March 1, 2008 at 1:40 AM

    Jazak Allah khayr Brother Ahmad for posting this.
    I remember Jerry Klien, a liberal talk show host, did something similar a year or so ago when he proposed special ID Cards for muslims on one of his broadcasts. A lot of people called in the program agreeing with him and some went so far as to say that he was being too nice to Muslims (I think one guy was like, ‘lets just round em all up’). At the end of the program he said that the entire proposition was ridiculous and that he had simply put it out there to illustrate the increasing hostility that Muslims are facing in this country.
    The audio from the program is still on his site at if anyone’s interested…

  12. me

    March 1, 2008 at 2:55 AM

    so whats new? and its only gonna get worse . . . so what do you do?

    get out of amrika!

  13. Umm 'Abdullah

    March 1, 2008 at 3:03 AM

    Interesting, based on this information from ‘Allied Media’, it shows US Muslims as being affluent:

    I am currently working on my Masters looking at Muslim consumer behavior and the demographic stuff is hard to deal with since there are numbers all over the place, and of course the biggest factor contributing to that is “who” the numbers are coming from.

    I know this is off-topic, but thought it was interesting to bring up since Br. Manas Shaikh brought up education and earnings.

  14. Mass

    March 1, 2008 at 4:30 AM

    Well mind you “Islamophobia” (whatever that really means) is largely an occidental phenomena well least portrayed on a much higher societal level than say some of the countries in the Asian Pacific. I am not buying into Occidental ethnocentrism, but defiantly what manifests now in America is only a reflection of what I described in my initial comment. That has nothing to do with the mushrikin of Mecca

  15. Asim

    March 1, 2008 at 2:04 PM

    wheres the link for the vid?

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  17. Amad

    March 1, 2008 at 9:13 PM

    Video added above

  18. theManOfFewWords

    March 1, 2008 at 10:50 PM

    Mass, y are you using occidental when u could use Western? Are you being pedantic? I think your being pedantic. Admit it … ur being pedantic. man up!

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  21. abu ameerah

    March 3, 2008 at 11:41 AM


    this is the best clip i’ve seen in a while. The best line, “Take your Jeee-had out to the parking lot…” was priceless!

    (inshallah, i’m gonna use that line from now on)

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  23. SaqibSaab

    March 6, 2008 at 5:01 PM

    Shaykh AbdulBary Yahya mentioned this in his Seerah: The Shepherd’s Path seminar in Chicago. I thought, “hey this would be good for” Lo and behold, here it is.

    May Allah protect us.

  24. Peaches

    March 7, 2008 at 5:57 PM

    So much for the United States country being the “melting pot” of the world. It’s just baffling how people react to the Muslim faith. They may blame Osama bin Laden or other past terrorists for it , but it’s just baffling to see how people have such a negative reaction to the Muslim faith and it gives nobody to mistreat individual because of their religion. Maybe if they actually learn about instead of being educated about it from their TV’s, they may realize that it one of the most civil religions in the world.

  25. Wigon

    March 8, 2008 at 4:43 PM

    Well there is a problem with “learning about Islam.” That problem is dependent on how non-Muslims learn about Islam and who teaches them. If a non-Muslim learns about Islam through such neo-con authors (and self-declared experts on Islam) as Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, and Bernard Lewis they will be TERRIFIED as they depict Islam as ultimately seeking to undermine overtly or covertly all of Western civilization that does not comply with Salafi type Islamic ideals.

    The same thing happens if they go learn about Islam at a more extremist masjid (mosque). If they go learn about Islam through a very liberal Sufi masjid, they will probably fall in love with the religion in all its beautiful emphasis on love and spirituality…but totally not learn a thing about Shariat law and the political/social aspect of Islam that may come as a shock to them when they do learn about it.

    The truth is usually somewhere in the middle in that Muslims…(although I know some will deny it)… are VERY different in every country with no one agenda or set of beliefs and with constantly changing cultural beliefs. They are influenced like all other humans by the constant shifts in politics, economics, and the history and culture in general of the countries they live in. All of this leaves non-Muslims quite confused in trying to figure out a “Good Muslim” from a “Bad Muslim” (the scary ones to Westerners). So they end up being suspicious of all Muslims.
    Its basic human psychology especially considering how poorly Western media describes Muslims (aside from a few refreshingly intelligent documentaries on PBS).

    Even more confusing is that Muslim scholars themselves also are fractured into many sects and ideologies and can not agree who is closer to Suna then the other, aside from the beleif that their Madhaab is the closest to Sunna and the true path of the faith. So if Muslims are confused and divided, you can imagine how non-Muslims feel as they watch the latest YouTube or LiveLeak Jihadi video feeding their Islamophobia further.

  26. Organic Muslimah

    March 9, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    I wanted to thank the author for highlighting the rising issue of Islamophobia in America. I shared the clip and subject with my Sunday school students today and it received great reaction. My students’ reaction was extremely positive and proactive. We will be using the video as beginning point to reverse the stereotypical image of Muslim Americans and how to individualize the message.

    Thanks again.

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  29. ummahsn

    June 10, 2010 at 5:30 AM

    great post informal artical .sharing a quick info that we now have our own islamic social network .Requesting to join to all brother and sisters from the globe .lests see how many we can gather .
    Each of your sign up is a help to muslim ummah .
    jazak ALLAH

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