The Depiction of Post 9/11 Movies of Arabs & Muslims Essay Sample for Free


9/11 is one of the most tragic terrorist attacks in the world by violent extremists in a coordinated assault that saw the fall of the World Trade Center. Since then, there has been a different reaction by different individuals to all Muslims and Arabs in general. Some individuals have shown tolerance and an unbiased view of Arabs while others have shown impatience rooted in the thought that all Arabs and Muslims are violent. Moreover, the American film industry is tasked with producing films that depict society today. At the center of film production are movies that best portray American society after 9/11. This has been done by producing films that show how Arabs and Muslims are treated within the borders of the United States as well as outside. Some films have shown a bias against all Arabs while others show acceptance based on the roles given to the characters. It is crucial to depict how various films from Hollywood view Muslims and Arabs at large, with some showing tolerance to Arabs while others view Arabs and Muslims as violent individuals, as a reaction to 9/11.

Films have the best depiction of a society towards a certain subject. Most filmmakers use them as a platform to portray the views of the societies where they live. It is, for this reason, that film is the best way to portray what some members of the US society feel about Arabs and Muslims after 9/11. The attack by Al-Qaeda affected the country and thus led to stricter security measures by the United States to curb terrorism. This attack also molded some of the reactions held by the various members of society. Furthermore, such tolerance and bias can be viewed in different films. It is critical to discuss the role that the producers of the films have in the presentation of Arabs and Muslims in such films. In the case that such a producer has a bias against Arabs, and then it is often depicted in the roles given to the characters of the film. Several films such as The Kingdom, 13 hours, American Sniper and Rendition. All these films have different perspectives on Arabs that might all be related to events after 9/11.


Rendition is a 2007 American political film that centers its storyline on the practice of extraordinary rendition, which is a tactic used by some security agencies in the United States to conduct interrogations. It was produced by Steve Golin, Keith Redmon, and Marcus Viscidi. The producers do not have any visible bias towards Arabs or Muslims in general. The film is meant to present a different opinion on terrorism films in the United States as shown at the start of the movie. The plot for the movie was inspired by real events in the abduction and torture of Khalid El-Masri (Alalawi 61). The character used to drive the plot is Anwar, who is arrested and heading home to Chicago. Anwar is wrongly taken by the CIA and detained as a result of the mistaken identity of him being a terrorist, whose bombing activities led to the death of several CIA officers in North Africa. Anwar was linked to the attack through phone calls analyzed by the CIA and the continuous mentions of his name. The use of extraordinary rendition as an interrogation technique on Anwar is what leads to the eventual confession of a crime that he did not commit. As a result, with help of a CIA agent, who during the investigation did not believe that Anwar had committed the crimes he was accused of, Anwar is later reunited with his family in the United States. The CIA agent eventually leaked the events of the interrogation to the media which saw some high-ranking officials go down.

This movie best depicts how Arabs and Muslims are viewed by some members of the United States. In particular, the wrongful arrest of Anwar shows that some people in the United States view Arabs and Muslims as violent extremists. Despite Anwar continually insisting that he did not perform any of the actions he was being accused of, the CIA still felt the need to torture and interrogate him. It is such a drive that blinded the agency into taking an innocent person as the bomber (Alalawi 61). The movie also shows several stereotypes within American society of Muslims and Arabs. Apart from Fatima and Anwar, most of the Arabs in the movie were depicted as terrorists with the interrogator being ignorant in their view of Arabs. Moreover, the fate that the Arabs and Muslims go through is observed as being a result of their own doing. Take an example of the depiction of Anwar as a terrorist being a flow out of the lack of him exposing the kinds of calls that he had with Rashid. Another instance is the death of Fatima who died while stopping her boyfriend from killing her father. This emphasizes that such stereotypes exist in the US against Muslims and Arabs.

However, the movie is also one of the few in Hollywood that depicts a Muslim as a victim as opposed to a villain. This story provides an insight into how Arabs are treated in the United States despite not having any relations to terrorism. The producer also outlines extraordinary rendition as an interrogation technique used by the US government to question terrorism suspects. Any suspect undergoes the sanctioned technique as a means to ensure cooperation. In Anwar’s case, the use of such a technique on an innocent individual pushes a person to the brink of accepting actions that one did not commit. Thus, this issue sympathizes with Muslims and Arabs and their plight in trying to prove that they are not violent extremists as depicted by some individuals.

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The Kingdom

The Kingdom is a terrorism-motivated movie of 2007 directed by Peter Berg. Peter Berg has been observed over the years to tackle the issue of Radical Islam in the films that he produces. In most instances, Berg tries to find the balance between the threat posed by radical Islam and the dangers of overreacting to the same. It is this balance that is the base for the films that he produces. The movie is guided by true events, the bombing of American forces in their station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which happened in 2003. After the attack, a team of FBI agents is sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate the issue. The team had to deal with a volatile and tense environment as the investigations were being carried out under the watchful eye of Faris al-Gha, a Saudi Colonel (Alalawi 60). It is through the storyline that the FBI team finds out that Al-Ghazi is a law-abiding citizen who wants to help them in their undertaking. During the investigation, Al-Ghazi is lost to the enemies.

The film centers on violence, and killing, among others that seek to provide a certain image of Muslims and Arabs. Most of the violent scenes observed in the movies are attributed to Muslims and Arabs. Furthermore, these depictions push the stereotype that some members of Hollywood view Muslims and Arabs as violent people. This is also shown at the beginning of the movie where Abu Hamza, who is a terrorist, forces his small son to watch a suicide bombing that he had planned. Despite the child being terrified by the events, the father continues to do this to ensure that the child follows the same path in the future. This example shows the attribution of Muslims and Arabs to terrorism from such a young age by the movie producer. The stereotype that Arabs are savages is also shown in the movie. In one instance, terrorists are observed to kill Americans in a horrible way (Alalawi 60). Such terrorists also killed a man in the presence of his son. These scenes serve to push the narrative of violence in the middle east and that Arabs and Muslims are violent people.

Away from the stereotypes, the movie also depicts Arabs as friends of the United States. Colonel Al-Ghazi, who is tasked with supervising the investigation process done by the Americans, is seen as a law-abiding citizen who sought to help the Americans with their investigations. This is an important part of the movie since it shows Arabs as followers of laws and not violent people. Al-Ghazi is eventually lost in the hands of terrorists while helping the Americans. This shows that most Arabs are also targets of violent extremists. From this single scene, they can be viewed as being victims of extremism as opposed to being the main perpetrators of the same.

American Sniper

American Sniper is a 2014 war drama based on the autobiography directed by Clint Eastwood. The director has not been attributed to any biases against the Muslim community, hence only develops the movie to outline the story in the best way. The movie portrays the life of Kyle on the way to becoming one of the greatest Marksman in the United States military. Despite the success Kyle has in the military, the same has toiled with their relationship with his family. Throughout the movie, various depictions are made of Arabs. The first kill made by Kyle is of a woman and her son, who were attacking the US Marines with a grenade. The plot is then driven by the hunt for the Al-Qaeda leader. Kyle interrogates a family whose father agrees to help him reach the organization’s second in command. From the plot, the father and his son are caught and killed by ‘The Butcher’ who is the second in command. The rest of the scenes show Kyle finishing one tour after another and going back home each time, with different events happening to his family.

The American Sniper shows a situation where Muslims and Arabs are depicted as being villains in the story. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, which operates in the Middle East but is not endorsed by most members of the society in such regions. The depiction of a mother and her child attacking the US Marines in the movie seeks to show that women and children are involved in terrorism. This depiction is wrong since it only aids further resentment that some members of the United States society have against Muslims and Arabs. A mother is the first connection that a child has with the world. Providing a movie scene showing that a mother teaches her child to attack the US Marines tries to show that the mothers might be involved in raising their children as terrorists, a wrong image.

However, a balance is brought when a family chooses to help Kyle get closer to the second in command. Kyle interrogates the family and the father agrees to take him closer to ‘The Butcher’. This shows that members of society can help capture the wrongdoers since they are not part of them. The family depicted in this scene displays that Muslims and Arabs are also victims of the war between terrorism and the US military. Families are often caught in the middle of this war with the US military interrogating them for information and the terrorist organization killing such families for the help that they provide to the military. This is viewed in the way that the father and the son who choose to help Kyle are killed by ‘The Butcher’, as a result of their involvement with the military. In the real world, the movie had several negative impacts on the Muslim and Arab communities in the United States. The aftermath of the movie saw an increase in anti-Muslim hate and threats. According to BBC (2015), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had collected many threats to Arabs after the movie was released. This is a good example of how films can influence public opinion about specific topics.

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13 Hours

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was released in 2016. This is an American biographical war film produced by Michael Bay. The film centers its theme on an Annex Security Team that fought to defend America’s embassy in Benghazi Libya, followed by waves of attacks in the country in 2012. The plot is driven by the need to protect the Embassy and the data that it holds before help comes. Insurgents seek to destroy the embassy and the individuals working in the embassy. As such, the soldiers move to protect everyone within the walls of the embassy, including the locals who work there. The film represents a final stand made by the soldiers in an attempt to prevent the insurgents from within the walls of the embassy.

In the film, several depictions are made of Arabs. Following the Arab spring that saw various Arab countries oust their dictatorial leaders out of the government, peace was sought in such countries. Libya, in the film, is viewed as unruly following the Arab Spring, and the presence of the US embassy in Benghazi is meant to show the willingness of the US in helping resolve the issues within the society. However, the attack on the US embassy, which was perhaps the only remaining embassy in the region, proves to show that Arabs are violent. Several attempts by insurgents to gain access to the grounds show most Arabs as being violent. However, contrary to this depiction, the locals working within the walls of the embassy help the soldiers to make a final stand before the embassy goes down (Associated Press, 2015). It is for this reason that the film received backlash from Libya. According to Child (2015), the film showed the heroism of American soldiers and failed to present the critical role played by the locals in keeping the insurgents at bay. CBS Interactive (2015), mention that locals helped fight the militia that stormed the consulate. As such the depiction in the movie only seeks to reinforce, the idea of Arabs being violent, which is not the case.


The film industry in the United States depicts American society and shows the various standings that society has on certain topics. Arabs and Muslims have been treated differently since 9/11, a depiction that has been observed in various films. Some films show Arabs and Muslims as violent individuals that only seek to cause harm. Other films show Arabs and Muslims as victims of the ongoing fight against terrorism. It is crucial to note that the actions of terrorist organizations should not be used to depict entire societies. As such, film producers should not drive divisions as a result of their films.

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