Western stereotypes of West and Central Asians

Western stereotypes of West and Central Asians

Stereotypes of Central and Western Asians are oversimplified generalisations against people from or with ancestry in Central Asia (including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, etc.) and Western Asia (including Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.).

Common stereotypes have become more prevalent in Western countries especially after 9/11. There have been hate crimes against people of Western Asian origin, who are mostly Muslims, in the USA [http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/gen.hate.crimes/] Many people who have Muslim names have also been detained at American airports [http://www.sptimes.com/News/020601/news_pf/Floridian/Assessing_Arab_Americ.shtml]

Central Asia especially the Former Soviet-bloc, is often seen as a backwards region, where everyone lives on subsistence farming, and everyone has strange customs. Recently, Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat Sagdiyev, a fictional reporter from Kazakhstan, has created controversy by taking advantage of Western audiences' lack of knowledge of Kazakhstan by creating false facts about Kazakhstan, that are often dubious in nature ("Throw The Jew Down The Well" being Kazakhstan's national folk song, and him being "Kazakhstan's sixth most popular journalist", for example.) Kazakhstan retaliated against Borat by removing his .Kz Website from the internet. [http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=a8dd6288-f57b-461f-ae76-60d8329ba39d]


In his essay "Arabs in Hollywood: An Undeserved Image", Scott J. Simon argues that of all the ethnic groups portrayed in Hollywood films, "Arab culture has been the most misunderstood and supplied with the worst stereotypes".

The American media stereotypes Arab Americans and Muslims as billionaires, belly dancers, bombers, and terrorists with little regard for human life, especially in the post-9/11 world. [ Wingfield, Marvin and Karaman, Bushra. [http://www.adc.org/index.php?id=283 "Arab Stereotypes and American Educators".] March 1995.] Many movies feature Arab terrorist villains threatening to blow things up, including "Black Sunday" and "". The stereotypical appearance of such Arabs includes beards and keffiyehs. The stereotype of the Arab billionaire may have its roots in the 1973 oil crisis. Arab women are usually portrayed as exotic belly dancers who are mute, subservient, and repressed. A number of American movies picture the U.S. military killing Arabs, such as "Rules of Engagement", "Iron Eagle", and "Executive Decision".

The equation of "Arab" and/or "Muslim" with "terrorist" is firmly embedded in Western media, in defiance of the "political correctness" that is frequently alleged by conservatives to permeate what they characterize as the "liberal" and "multicultural" editorial positions of the media.


Kazakhstan, once a generally unknown country in the West, has come under recent stereotyping, most notably due to the prominent British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's Da Ali G Show character Borat. Borat is shown to be a crude, backward, misogynist racial Third-Worlder that hates Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals. Borat is often portrayed to be speaking Kazakh, while in reality, he is often speaking Hebrew or Polish. The Kazakhstan government has done everything it could to disassociate itself from Borat, even deleting his .Kz page. [http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,17962,00.html?rssceleb]


Though not as prominent in the film as the Kazakhs, the Uzbeks have their own share of stereotyping. They are described by Borat as being "very nosy people with a bone in the middle of their brain". Throughout the film they are referred to as "assholes Uzbekistan".


Hollywood movies such as "Not Without My Daughter", "Alexander", and "300" have been accused of portraying Persians in a negative fashion. Roger Ebert wrote: "Not Without My Daughter" does not play fair with its Muslim characters. If a movie of such a vitriolic and spiteful nature were to be made in America about any other ethnic group, it would be denounced as racist and prejudiced."

The film "Alexander" was accused of negative and inaccurate portrayal of ancient Persians. Reviewers of the film "300" "noted the political overtones of the West-against-Iran story line -- and the way Persians are depicted as decadent, sexually flamboyant and evil in contrast to the noble Greeks."

Persians are also mistakenly depicted as desert people however, Iran has a diverse terrain with a small portion of it being desert.


Turkish people are usually portrayed as intelligent gunmen who have underground terror or mafia function.Habib Marwan from "24" is one of the more well-known Turkish characters in the mold of this stereotype. Mehmet Oz who had a TV show on the Discovery Channel broke this stereotype with his doctor uniform.


External links

* [http://www.asian-nation.org/racism.shtml Asian-Nation: Anti-Asian Prejudice & Racism]

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