Their stories vary. Â But many times they have something in common: Theyâ€™ve been harassed or humiliated because theyâ€™re Muslim.
In describing her life as a Muslim, Kelly Alsuhaim says she was â€œharassed, humiliated,â€ and beaten because â€œpeople donâ€™t see the true me.â€
Declaring there should be liberty and justice for all, and acknowledging Muslimsâ€™ contribution to America, the Unity Productions Foundation has put together a project video, â€œMy Fellow Americanâ€, urging concerned Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are fellow Americans. It also asks people of other backgrounds to pledge and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire.
UPF said Muslims â€œare part of the national fabric that holds our country together,â€ adding that Muslims contribute to America in many ways and deserve the same respect as any other.
Using the power of social media, â€œMy Fellow Americanâ€ seeks to change the narrative â€“ from Muslims as the other, to Muslims as fellow Americans.
In a press release, UPF noted that â€œAmerica was built on the principles of equality and basic human rights for all. The recent mosque protests and congressional hearings on American Muslims are all unfortunate examples of a rising tide of fear that lead to intolerance and inequality. This climate of suspicion towards our fellow Americans compromises the great values that our country was founded upon. Weâ€™ve put together a 2 minute film in responseâ€¦â€
The website has many other features, including the ability for visitors to the site to share their own stories and they can also take the “My Fellow American” pledge.
You can visit the site at: http://myfellowamerican.us
On UPFâ€™s site, Kelly Alsuhaim described her life as a Muslim:
Â â€œI am 25 years old. I have been Muslim for 7 years, and since I have been Muslim I have been harassed, humiliated, beaten because people donâ€™t see the true me. They only see my headscarf. I love art, movies, roller coasters and everything filled with adventure. I married a man from Saudi Arabia, and the first thing people ask is if he beats me and I am like OMG because there is so much stereotyping in this world. Every one of my friends has been discriminated at least one time since September 11. I have one friend in Florida who has been fired so many times because she refuses to take off her headscarf. I wish people would see me as an American and as an equal.â€
In pledging his support on the site, Business Mogul Russell Simmons urged fellow Americans to join in â€œprotecting and celebratingâ€ the Muslim community.
â€œMy Fellow Americanâ€ points out that â€œmost Americans have never met an American Muslim. Many only know Muslims through the way they are portrayed in the media. American Muslims are so often vilified as â€˜the otherâ€™ that it is possible not to recognize that most were born in the U.S. Or that those who immigrated here came seeking the same freedoms and opportunities that have always attracted people to America.
â€œMuslims are our fellow Americans, who today face threats to their civil rights and even their personal safety because of the fearful and often hateful rhetoric that would not be tolerated were it uttered about any other minority group.â€
â€œMy Fellow Americanâ€ is a project of Unity Productions Foundation (www.upf.tv), a 501Â©3 media and education non profit organization. The mission of Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is to create peace through the media. Founded in 1999, UPF produces documentary films for television and online broadcast and theatrical release, and implements long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, especially between Muslims and other faiths. â€œWe are convinced of the power of media to empower citizens with greater understanding and to nourish pluralism in America. (Posted on their website).â€
UPF films have been viewed by an estimated 150 million people worldwide and have won dozens of national and international awards. UPF has partnered with prominent Jewish, Muslim, Christian and interfaith groups to run dialogues nationwide â€” with more than 80,000 participants in classrooms, community centers, living rooms, government offices and religious congregations.
Year after year, UPFâ€™s films are recognized for excellence:
- Best Documentary at the 2007 American Black Film Festival
- 5 Telly Awards for excellence in educational documentaries
- 11 TIVA-DC Peer Awards, including Best Documentary
- Hamburg World Media Film Festivalâ€™s Gold and Silver Awards
- 4 CINE Golden Eagle Awards
- 4 Grand Goldies Awards
- Newark Black Film Festivalâ€™s 2008 Paul Robeson Award
- Official Selection of 2 dozen film festivals around the world
My Fellow American was produced by Unity Productions Foundation in association with Gardner Films, Inc (www.gardnerfilms.com). It was directed by the Oscar-nominated, multiple Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker, Robert Gardner.
The film project was shot in Baltimore using some of the personnel who worked on the popular television series, The Wire. The voices heard in the film are actual excerpts found on youtube, and were a small sample of such comments from various public figures, including law makers, radio and television personalities, and leading religious leaders.
My Fellow American was made possible by the support of individuals and charitable organizations including the Odyssey Networks, a media organization delivering videos of interfaith news beyond the headlines and inspirational stories of faith in action.
Visitors can visit UPFâ€™s website: (www.upf.tv) and submit their own story or video.
Press and media, please email email@example.com
For video and story questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (202) 298-8088