Posted by: Martin Fox | July 3, 2008

Changing Stereotype of Islam

By Martin Fox with The Center for Global Leadership and The Higher Road Initiative

Global cohesion through art – pretty cool stuff. The following article “Shattering US stereotypes of Islam via art exhibits.” by Andrew DeMillo with the Associated Press is some good, light reading. Nothing mind altering, just a good article to remind us there are other faces to Islam than the high profile, radical terrorist kind. Keeping in mind, 93% of Muslims are moderate individuals living a life of peace, compassion, and tolerance. The other 7% who believe in violence, hate, and intolerance, well, don’t get me going on that group (today is a happy day for me).

Peace out – Martin Fox with The Center for Global Leadership and The Higher Road Initiative.

Exhibit aims to shatter US stereotypes of Islam, by Andress DeMillo with the Associated Press

In the months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Princess Wijdan Al Hashemi and her friend Aliki Moshis-Gauguet noticed the only depictions they saw of Muslim women showed behind veils, oppressed by their cultures.

Moschis-Gauguet said, “Do you see what’s going on in the media?… Muslim women are being portrayed as women living behind long veils,” said Al Hashemi, founder and director of the Royal Society of Fine Arts of Jordan. “She couldn’t stand the way Muslim and Arab women were being portrayed.”

Al Hashemi and Moschis_Gauguet, president of the Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network, turned to the world they knew best to find an answer: the world of art.

To combat what they saw as misperceptions about the Muslim and Arab nations, the two women teamed up to create a traveling exhibit featuring female artists from Islamic countries. The show “Breaking the Veils: Women Artists From the Islamic World” began its three-year United States tour at the Clinton Presidential Library, where it will be on view through Sept. 14th.

The exhibit features works by 52 women from 21 Islamic countries, from Algeria to Yemen. It previously toured 15 European cities and Australia.

Despite the shows title, not all the artists are Muslim. Al Hashemi said some works are by Buddhists, Christians and Hindus from the Arab world.

“When we say the Islamic world, we mean the cultural world… not the religious world,” Al Hashemi said.

She said she is hopeful the works will eliminate stereotypes and misconceptions many have about Islam and Arab countries. For example, she said, many visitors have been surprised by the works of art that depict humans or animals. Although some Muslims oppose any art that depicts humans, Al Hashemi said such works are common throughout Islamic countries.

“The presentation of human images in Islam is only prohibited in mosques and places of worship to keep the Muslims from going back to worshipping idols,”she said. Al Hasemi calls the opposition to depictions of human figures an “extreme interpretation” to the Quran’s strict opposition to idolatry.

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