In a statement, CAIR’s smarmy National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “The Aladdin myth is rooted by racism, Orientalism and Islamophobia. To release it during the Trump era of rapidly rising anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and racist animus only serves to normalize stereotyping and to marginalize Muslim minority communities.”
“The overall setting, tone and character development in the ‘Aladdin’ story continues to promote stereotypes, resulting in a perpetuation of Islamophobic ideas and images. We urge the public and film critics to scrutinize the new production of ‘Aladdin’ in light of its historical context and today’s toxic environment for all minority communities.”
CAIR is calling on movie reviewers to address the following concerns:
The Aladdin story, not just the Disney film, has always been associated with depicting Arabs and Muslims as barbaric, uncivilized “others,” following a long pattern of anti-Muslim attitudes in Hollywood. Film critics should consider commentary and scholarship by experts as they review the current Disney production.
For reference see the report “Haqq and Hollywood: 100 Years of Muslim Tropes and How to Transform Them” by Pop Culture Collaborative Fellow, Dr. Maytha Alhassen as well as commentary by Smithsonian, Haaretz, and Aljazeera.
The Aladdin Jr. play, a licensed Disney production that encourages elementary school children to perform a rendition of the play, has been the source of alienation and trauma for Arab, South Asian and Muslim children and has even been removed by some school districts for not being compatible with the values of culture equity, diversity and tolerance. This comes at a time when Muslim children face bullying at twice the rate of their non-Muslim peers, as reported by a CAIR-CA study.
Looks like none of the Muslim actors in the cast had similar reservations as CAIR about their roles in the film:
As seen through the trailer, the racist themes of the original animated cartoon seemingly reemerge in the live-action remake, despite efforts by Disney to address the concerns from 25 years ago.
While the film is set in a fictional country, Agrabah, the location will clearly be perceived as Middle Eastern, Muslim or the “Orient,” leading viewers to make the resulting associations with Muslim Arabs. In fact, a PPP survey in 2015 found an alarming number of Republicans and Democrats alike being in favor of bombing Agrabah.
The release of Aladdin coincides with ongoing Islamophobic content in mainstream entertainment media: Earlier this month, CAIR joined its New York chapter (CAIR-NY) in calling on producers of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (SVU) to meet with Muslim community leaders following an episode of that long-running program viewed as Islamophobic and racist. (Not surprisingly, the Law& Order SVU producers have refused to meet with the CAIR goon squad)