Post 9/11 Arab American coverage avoids stereotypes

Post 9/11 Arab American coverage avoids stereotypes

Weston, Mary Ann

This study of newspaper articles about Arab Americans before and after Sept. 11 revealed that a dominant theme of the pre-Sept. 11 stories was of Arab Americans resisting stereotypes and discrimination. After the attacks, newspapers tended to present Arab Americans as doubly victimized, as loyal patriotic members of the community and as targets of government detention.

As news organizations mobilized to cover the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Arab Americans suddenly showed up on the news agenda. Even before it was determined that the hijackers were Arab Muslims who had lived in the United States varying lengths of time, Americans who looked Middle Eastern were harassed, assaulted and their property vandalized in a wave of misplaced retaliation. Newspapers nationwide covered the unwanted prominence thrust upon American Arabs and Muslims as they became targets of hate crimes and subjects for government roundups and detention. Some of the hate crime victims were neither Arab nor Muslim but apparently fit the popular stereotype.1

After Sept. 11 newspapers were challenged to cover Arab American stories in their own communities as well as nationwide. In some cases newspapers were introducing to their audiences a people whose previous coverage had been scanty and, often, laden with negative stereotypes.

This study examines the daily newspaper coverage of Arab Americans before and after Sept. 11. Coverage before Sept. 11 is used as a snapshot of coverage at a time when there were no overriding issues thrusting the group into public attention.

Research questions for each time period include:


What themes, frameworks and images dominated coverage?


To what extent did the newspaper stories put Arab Americans and their communities in context by using background on their ethnic origins, religious practices and cultures?


Did coverage reinforce previous stereotypes or refute them?


Stories for analysis were obtained from newspaper databases by using the search term “Arab American.” The Lexis-Nexis database was used for most stories. Additional stories came from the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit Free Press Web sites. The Chicago Tribune was added to the papers indexed on Lexis-Nexis because it is a strong regional paper. The Free Press was added because it serves the metropolitan area with the greatest concentration of Arab Americans. Pre-Sept. 11 stories were those found between June 1 and Sept. 11, 2001. Post-Sept. 11 stories were those found from Sept. 12 to Oct. 11, 2001. Only news and feature stories from U.S. newspapers were analyzed. No letters, editorials or commentaries were used. In all, 195 newspaper stories were analyzed.

The research is qualitative rather than quantitative. It surveys the themes, images and texture of the stories rather than assessing their frequency. Specifically, analysis of newspaper stories is drawn from research that suggests social meanings of news, that is, that news takes on meaning and resonance beyond conveying “facts” about “events.” In the present case, the research explores construction or perpetuation of images about Arab Americans, a group with which mainstream newspaper audiences may have little direct experience. It draws on studies of journalistic practices of selection, exclusion, emphasis and organization by which reporters and editors mold events or situations into “stories.” Further, it takes note of research that explores universal narratives or “myths” in constructing stories. Essentially the research looks at the stories themselves, the end product that is presented to the audience.2

Bird and Dardenne contend that, contrary to journalistic ideology, news “is a story about reality, not reality itself.”3 They argue that journalists use culturally imbedded “story values” to make sense of events. But also journalists “have to fit new situations into old definitions. It is in their power to place people and events into the existing categories of hero, villain, good and bad, and thus to invest their stories with the authority of mythological truth.” However, journalists make these judgments quickly-on deadline-and thus “inevitably resort to existing frameworks.”4

In addition to research on narrative and framing, this article draws on the considerable research on stereotyping and on portrayals of racial and ethnic groups in journalism. Walter Lippmann was among the first to discuss stereotypes in journalism. He noted their utility in organizing and making sense of the world: “For the attempt to see all things freshly and in detail, rather than as types and generalities, is exhausting…” But he also took note of their power: “We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. And those preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception.”5

Those who have researched portrayals of Arabs and Muslims and, by extension, Arab and Muslim Americans, in the news and entertainment media have repeatedly found negative stereotypes. Michael Suleiman notes that Americans have “a general picture of Arabs which, though vague, is distorted and incorrect and, almost invariably, negative, at times bordering on racist.”6 The origins of these images date to conflicts between Christianity and Islam over centuries from the Crusades to the Ottoman Empire. “Western writers on Islam…have often presented Islam and Muslims in an unfavorable light. As most Americans do not distinguish between Arabs and Muslims and think the two terms are synonymous, negative reporting about Islam and Muslims automatically tarnishes the Arabs,” Suleiman writes.7

Edward Said, exploring the roots of these stereotypes, suggests that they date from the earliest contacts between peoples from the East and Europeans.8 The Orient was viewed through the lens of and in opposition to the West, he writes.9 Said traces Orientalist discourse from classical Greek drama through the development of European thought. He notes two motifs in the dramas of Aeschylus and Euripides that resonate today: 1) that of Europe [and, today, America] as “powerful and articulate” and Asia, articulated by Europe as “defeated and distant” and 2) the Orient as “insinuating danger. Rationality is undermined by eastern excesses, those mysteriously attractive opposites to what seem to be normal values.”10

Arab American writers have called attention to negative stereotypes in the press during several points in the 20th century, particularly during the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 and the Araboil embargo. The images they describe echo the ancient motifs articulated by Said. “Most Americans picture Arabs as backward, scheming, fanatic terrorists who are dirty, dishonest, oversexed and corrupt,” Edmund Ghareeb wrote in the 1970s. Other images he cited were the “bumbling, cowardly Arab” after the 1967 war, the “Arab terrorist” and the “super-rich Arab sheikh controlling world oil, squeezing the jugular vein of the Western World.”11 The negative portrayal of Arabs and Arab Americans in these and other events led, in the early 1980s, to the formation of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) by former South Dakota Sen. James Abourezk.12

The overwhelmingly negative image of Arabs in the mass media was reinforced by hostage-takings and car bombings in Lebanon in the 1980s, plane hijackings, the mid-air destruction of Pan Am Flight 109 in 1988 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Thus when the Oklahoma City federal building was blown up in 1995, journalists initially suspected Middle Eastern terrorists. Said wrote that he received some 25 phone calls “from newspapers, the major networks, and several resourceful reporters, all of them acting on the assumption that since I was from and had written about the Middle East that I must know something more than most other people. The entirely factitious connection between Arabs, Muslims, and terrorism was never more forcefully made evident to me.”13 The man convicted of bombing the Oklahoma City federal building was Timothy McVeigh, a white Christian.14


In 2000 the Detroit Free Press, located in the area with the nation’s most concentrated Arab American population, published a journalist’s guide to covering this group, 100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans. The guide’s introduction states, “Although the Arab culture is one of the oldest on Earth, it is, in many parts of the United States, misunderstood.”15

According to the guide, there are some 3 million Arab Americans in the United States. (The exact number is unclear because the U.S. Census Bureau does not have such a classification.) The unifying aspect of Arab Americans is their common heritage of the Arabic language.16 Beyond this, the group is highly diverse. According to the Arab American Institute, a majority of those in the United States are Christian.17 The first wave of Arab American immigrants was mainly Christians and came to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century. They were called Syrians because they came from the province of Greater Syria in the Ottoman Empire, an area including present-day Lebanon and Syria. Later immigrants have come from most Arabic-speaking areas, including, according to the Free Press guide, “Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.”18 Recent immigrants have been largely Muslim. While the holiest places of Islam are in the Middle East, worldwide, only about 12 percent of Muslims are Arabs.19

With this background in mind, newspaper stories were analyzed using several dimensions: The narrative framework of the story; the images portrayed in the story seen both on their own terms and in relation to well known stereotypes, and the presence or absence of details that put the people, community and event into cultural, ethnic and religious context.

Findings Pre-Sept. 11


A total of 27 stories meeting the search criteria were found between June 1 and Sept. 11. Of the stories analyzed, a dominant theme was resistance to the image of the Arab terrorist. Several stories depicted Arab Americans’ complaints of ethnic profiling and stereotyping. A Los Angeles Times story met the issue head-on in an article headlined “Negative Stereotyping Distorts Arabs’ Image.” The author, Howard Rosenberg, noting the overwhelmingly negative portrayals of Arabs in films and on television, wrote, “With no more Soviets for U.S. heroes to fight on TV, thanks to the Cold War’s ending, however, Arabs have become the clay pigeon of choice.” The article quoted several scholars and activists who were lobbying against the portrayals.20 A Chicago Tribune article reported allegations of ethnic profiling of Arab Americans by a suburban police department and the officers’ denial in an even-handed manner, quoting sources on both sides.21 An article in The St. Petersburg Times discussed Arab Americans’ disillusionment with the Bush administration’s inaction on the use of secret evidence in cases of immigrants with alleged ties to terrorists. The story was framed as a political analysis, hinging on Arab Americans’ and Muslims’ endorsement of Bush’s candidacy, partly because he had objected to secret evidence during the campaign.22

Another story recounted protests by Arab Americans in Ohio against that state’s congressional delegation’s pro-Israel stance. The article, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, noted that the event “marked a new resolve by Arab-Americans in Ohio to step up their public-relations efforts to convince Americans they are favoring the wrong side.”23 These stories, framed in a political context, portrayed Arab Americans as part of the body politic, seeking to use the political system to change public policy they believed was based on negative stereotypes.24 In somewhat the same vein, a Detroit Free Press story reported on a survey to assess possible racial profiling of Arabs at Detroit’s Metro Airport. The story depicted differing views of Arab American leaders on whether the survey was needed to determine whether their people were being unfairly targeted.25 Thus Arab Americans were seen as independent actors resisting discrimination, but also a community with differing viewpoints.

In another example a Newsday story quotes a music promoter who was touting new Arabic music.

Copeland [the promoter] says that anti-Arab sentiment in the United States has, indeed, been a hurdle for his artists. Americans tend to lump all Arabs together, he says, and popular culture has allowed Arabs to be stereotyped as the ‘bad guy.’ His hope is that, by learning to appreciate Arabic culture, Americans will gain a more rounded understanding of the Arab world.26

Each of these stories depicted Arab Americans resisting the Arab terrorist image. But it was Arab Americans’ public efforts to dispel the image that made the stories newsworthy. So, implicitly, such stories were an acknowledgement of, as well as an attempt to refute, the stereotype.


Generally the more event-oriented stories omitted details that would put Arab Americans in context while feature stories contained more such details. The Chicago Tribune story cited earlier, for example, noted that the suburb’s police officers had gone to a local mosque “to take part in the Breaking of the Fast and Dinner program” as part of their outreach to Arab Americans. The article did not explain the holiday (possibly the Eid al-Fitr or Holy Day of Breaking the Fast at the end of Ramadan) or its meaning to the community.27

A positive example of a story that put a local community in context came from the Boston Herald. It compared Boston’s “Big Dig” project to the rebuilding of Beirut after Lebanon’s 16-year civil war and explored the ties between the two cities. “[The rebuilding is] luring back Lebanese-Americans to explore their roots and help their homeland. At the other, it’s attracting ambitious Lebanese to Greater Boston for training they can use to shape their country’s future,” the story said. The story also went into the history of Boston’s century-old Lebanese community and quoted Lebanese working in Boston.28

Findings Post-Sept. 11


As newspapers across the country struggled to cover the cataclysms of Sept. 11, many focused on the local Arab American community. During the month following the attacks, several themes evolved that were remarkably uniform in papers nationwide. In the days immediately after Sept. 11 stories concentrated on Arab Americans as double victims: They suffered as did everyone at the horror of the attacks; some lost loved ones. But at the same time they were being harassed, intimidated and discriminated against-even murdered-for events over which they had no control. The images these stories presented were overwhelmingly sympathetic ones of a people bewildered and victimized.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch illustrated the innocence of local Arab Americans in a story knocking down a rumor that some Muslims cheered the attacks. “Muslim clerks at a 7-Eleven store in St. Louis reported that they were threatened Thursday in an incident that some in the Muslim and Arab-American community say highlights the danger of blaming many for the actions of a few terrorists.” The story later quoted a clerk “who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals” this way: “‘People think we have the religion, so we must be like (the terrorists),’ said one employee, a 24-year-old Muslim born in Somalia who has lived in St. Louis for five years. “My religion doesn’t tell me to kill anybody. All those people who died were innocent.”29

Many stories highlighted Arab Americans’ dual suffering in headlines, leads and quotes, as the following examples show.

Hartford Courant

“Arab Americans Deal with ‘Dual Pain’ after Attacks; While Mourning with Other Citizens, Some Feel Targeted for Their Ethnicity” (headline)30

Detroit Free Press

“It was a sad, somber and tense day for Arab Americans across metro Detroit. They reacted with shock and outrage over Tuesday’s terror attacks, as other Americans did. But they also feared they would again become victims of prejudice, of a racist sense they were not part of America.” The story went on to quote an Arab American leader as saying, “It’s a double agony….As U.S. citizens, we feel the tragedy, but we are also seen as being different, as suspects.”31

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Local Arab-American leaders condemned yesterday’s bombings as they braced for backlash, many expressing fears that their community would be blamed.”32

Houston Chronicle

“Local Muslim and Arab leaders condemned the rash of terrorism Tuesday and pleaded with Americans not to mount a backlash based on race or religion.”33

Tampa Tribune

“Engineer Saleh Mubarak, a native of Syria, said Arab-Americans ‘feel the pain twice,’ once as Americans and again as targets of hostility and suspicion.”34

While highlighting their dual suffering, many stories also depicted Arab Americans as loyal and patriotic.

A Washington Post roundup on Sept. 13 noted that

virtually every Muslim and Arab American group…Lined up yesterday to condemn the attacks on American targets. Leaders defended Islam as a peace-loving religion and insisted that their hearts and national loyalties were with America, not with foreign extremists.35

A story in Newsday told of Arab and Sikh cab drivers who offered free rides to people searching for loved ones missing in the World Trade Center collapse.

The cab drivers, fearing they are easy targets for harassment since the attack is being blamed on radical Middle Eastern Muslims, said they want to be embraced as American countrymen and not unjustly vilified as members of a murderous clan. They want to help.36

The Columbus Dispatch profiled an Arab American, Mahmoud El-Yousseph, who was a 17-year member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Ohio Air National Guard and was awaiting call-up orders. Although his family had been threatened with firebombing, El-Yousseph was described as eager to go. “[The call-up] will give El-Yousseph a chance to show again that Arab-Americans are as loyal to this country as anyone,” the story said. “‘It will be a bit of a hardship on my family, but my bags are packed and I’m ready to go; I’d be proud to go,'” he said yesterday.”37

And the Detroit Free Press quoted a local Arab American fearful of hate crimes as saying, “We’re Americans just like everyone else, and we’re hurt by the attack….I was born in Cleveland. You can’t get more American than that.”38

In these and many other examples Arab Americans and Muslims were portrayed sympathetically. By directly quoting local individuals, the stories humanized Arab Americans, portraying them as part of the community. Thus Arab Americans’ own words were implicit refutations of the evil, menacing terrorist image.

The theme of Arab Americans as fearful of a backlash was revisited after the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan began in early October. Such stories depicted Arab Americans as publicly supportive of the bombings, but fearful of civilian casualties and domestic backlash.39

Another theme that emerged after the initial wave of stories about hate crimes against Arab Americans was the outpouring of sympathy and support for them. Such stories surged after President George W. Bush visited a mosque on Sept. 17. For example a Chicago Tribune story said, Across the city and suburbs…some people called mosques to offer emotional and financial support, walking Muslim children to school and leaving in the parking lot of the Islamic Association of Des Plaines an anonymous gift of yellow flowers with the note: ‘May all your families be safe.’40

A USA Today story profiled an Arab American family in Aurora, Colo., who had been harassed and intimidated. Women in the family, wearing hijab, were afraid to go out. The story related how a Jewish couple from across the street, “previously known only by looks and nods,” came to the door. They invited the Arab Americans for honey cake and coffee to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. “We just want you to know that we feel for you right now,” said the neighbor.41

A Plain Dealer story described a woman who

rallied several friends and drove up [to Cleveland] from Mansfield, determined to patronize Arab merchants after learning they felt threatened. ‘This is not the response that we need to have to this terrible tragedy,’ [the woman] said. ‘I can’t do much, but give blood – which I did yesterday – and go shopping.’42

Stories of individual families’ pain and of the kindness of strangers depicted Arab Americans sympathetically as innocent victims embraced by the larger community.

Numerous stories showed local leaders-governors and mayors-making statements of support and warning of the criminal consequences of ethnic intimidation. Some stories drew contrasts between this official support and the way the Arab American community had been shunned by candidates previously. “[T]hey have emerged from one of the most maligned, politically powerless immigrant groups in American history into a viable political lobby,” a Chicago Tribune article noted. It observed that Arab American votes were actively courted by both candidates in the 2000 presidential election, in contrast to rejections of Arab Americans by Democratic Presidential candidates Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988 and by New York Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2000.43

Still other stories drew parallels between the travails of Arab Americans and the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. A Chicago Tribune story began,

Amid reports of hate crimes, assaults and even killings of innocent people with Arab names, Japanese-Americans are taking the lead in efforts to support Arab-Americans even as they recall World War II, when their fellow Americans vilified them for Japan’s actions.44

This association with Japanese Americans, whose treatment has been discredited and whose loyalty is undeniable, contributed to the positive and patriotic image of Arab Americans.

A more ambiguous image of Arab Americans emerged from stories about the government’s search for the roots of the terrorism plot. Arab Americans were caught astride the shifting line between civil liberties and national security. Some stories described their uneasy relationship with the government, which they praised for prosecuting hate crimes and feared for its dragnet of Middle Eastern men. A Los Angeles Times story reflected these complexities when it reported Muslim leaders suggested that a surge in hate crimes was fueled by the FBI’s detention of “dozens of people of Middle Eastern heritage for questioning in its terrorist investigation, most of them on immigration charges unconnected to last week’s hijackings.”45 By juxtaposing President Bush’s call for religious tolerance, the surge of hate crimes and Muslim complaints about the FBI’s roundup of Middle Eastern men, the story legitimized the Muslims’ concerns.

In another example, an Atlanta Journal and Constitution story said,

Arab-Americans feel that the [Bush] administration they hoped would redress their grievances has instituted policies that disproportionately target them, including indefinitely detaining people of Middle Eastern descent on suspicion of terrorism.46

By prominently showcasing Arab Americans’ concerns, such stories contributed to an image of Arab Americans as solid citizens with grievances and helped diminish their image as outsiders, law breakers or worse. Other stories implicitly challenged the FBI roundup by highlighting Arab Americans’ complaints about being taken off airplanes and having worship services disrupted.

“[Arab Americans] believe that they are being singled out by federal agents and airlines for suspicion, hostility and unfair treatment simply because of their ethnic background and religion,” a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story said.47

Finally, a few stories quoted Arab Americans who sought to explain possible motivations for the attacks, while emphatically not condoning them. However much such ideas may have been discussed within the community, apparently few wished to express them on the record. In the stories analyzed, those making the explanations were not named. The dilemma of those who sought to explain the terrorists’ actions was clearly and sympathetically put in a (New Orleans)Times-Picayune story quoting an unnamed spokeswoman for an Arab American group. “[L]ike so many Arab-Americans, the spokeswoman said she fears explanations will be mistaken for excuses. For this reason, she has asked not to be identified.”48


Before Sept. 11 Arab Americans were not prominently in the news. Their media image, conflated with that of Arabs and Muslims abroad, was negative. Thus, when Arab Americans became suddenly newsworthy, their portrayals in newspapers had considerable resonance. What did the stories tell readers about Arab and Muslim cultures, religions and origins?

Arab Americans have frequently complained that the public at large does not distinguish between Arabs and Muslims despite the fact that a majority of Arab Americans are Christian and only 12 percent of Muslims worldwide are Arabs. Some stories scrutinized did ignore the distinction, seemingly using the terms “Arab” and “Muslim” interchangeably.

An early Chicago Tribune article observed that the principal of a Muslim school “feared the day’s events would mark a new chapter in Muslim life in this country.” But the article next quoted the principal as saying, “‘I worry that people will not see Arab-Americans as their neighbor next door…but will jump to stereotypes.'”49 It is quite possible that the principal was both an Arab and a Muslim, but nowhere in the article was there any information on the school or the community to put the matter into context.

An Atlanta Journal and Constitution story asserted, “Some Atlanta residents of Arab descent are afraid to walk in public. There are an estimated 60,000 Muslims in the Atlanta metro area.”50 The story never distinguished between the terms.

A few early stories used awkward or misleading terminology in descriptions, sometimes stumbling over hijab, the Islamic teaching of modesty that leads some Muslim women to cover their heads with scarves or veils.51 A Columbus Dispatch story, for example, described a man as being a “U.S. citizen of Arab descent” whose wife “wears traditional Muslim garb.”52 While the descriptions were not incorrect, specifics on the man’s country of origin and the woman’s dress would have been better. Using specific terms would avoid depicting Arab Americans as a monolithic group.

Arab Americans are diverse religiously, culturally and nationally, and each local community has its own character. Some are dominated by recent immigrants from Palestine or Yemen or Iraq, others by Lebanese Americans whose ancestors arrived a century ago. A few stories described this diversity, either by briefly profiling the community or by giving the national or religious background of each source. By the end of September a good many papers had run explanatory features profiling the local Arab-American community.53 Other stories contributed to the image of Arab Americans as diverse communities by highlighting businesses54 or sports teams.55

Another challenge for newspapers was to depict Islam accurately. It is quite possible that many papers had stories on the nature of Islam that were not found in this search. But many stories on Arab Americans of necessity contained references to Islam. While no gross inaccuracies were found, solid explanations were also in short supply. An admirable exception was a Sept. 14 story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that used a local imam and a religion scholar as sources to explore the roots of Islam, its relationship to Judaism and Christianity, and the term “jihad.”56


A dominant theme of pre-Sept. 11 stories was of Arab Americans resisting stereotypes and discrimination. In the month after Sept. 11 Arab Americans surged onto the news agenda. Newspaper readers saw them depicted sympathetically as doubly victimized, as loyal, patriotic members of the community, as targets of government detentions. The images often contained intimate views of nearby individuals and sometimes revealing descriptions of their cultures and religion. Though stories examined often failed to depict the diversity of Arab American culture, few grossly inaccurate or offensive portrayals were found. Such portrayals contrast vividly with the historic stereotype of the Arab terrorist. Future research may discern whether the diverse and positive images of 2001 have established a competing narrative to the heretofore-dominant negative stereotypes.


1. The FBI reported that hate crimes against people who were or looked to be of Middle Eastern descent increased from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001, an increase of more than 1,500 percent. Darryl Fears, “Hate Crimes Against Arabs Surge, FBI Finds,” The Washington Post, 26 November, 2002, sect. A, p.2.

2. See, among others, Dan Berkowitz, editor, Social Meanings of News (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1997); Herbert Gans, Deciding What’s News (New York: Vintage Books, 1979); Todd Gitlin, The Whole World Is Watching (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980); Jack Lule, Daily News, Eternal Stories (New York: The Guilford Press, 2001).

3. S. Elizabeth Bird and Robert W. Dardenne, “Myth, Chronicle, and Story: Exploring the Narrative Qualities of News” in Media, Myths, and Narratives: Television and the Press, ed. James W. Carey (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1988), 82.

4. Bird and Dardenne, “Myth, Chronicle, and Story,” 80, 81.

5. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1922), 88-90.

6. Michael Suleiman, “America and the Arabs: Negative Images and the Feasibility of Dialogue,” in Arab Americans: Continuity and Change, eds. Baha Abu-Laban and Michael W. Suleiman (Belmont, Mass.: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., 1989), 251.

7. Suleiman, “America and the Arabs,” 254-255. For Western attitudes toward Arabs and Islam see Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979) and Covering Islam, Rev. Ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 1997).

8. The author has drawn much of this discussion from an article she co-authored. See Mary Ann Weston and Marda Dunsky, “One Culture, Two Frameworks: U.S. Media Coverage of Arabs at Home and Abroad,” in The Journal of Islamic Law and Culture 7, no. 1 (spring/summer 2002): 132-133.

9. Said, Orientalism, 58.

10. Said, Orientalism, 57.

11. Edmund Ghareeb, “Imbalance in the American Media” in Split Vision: The Portrayal of Arabs in the American Media, ed. Edmund Ghareeb (Washington, D.C.: American-Arab Affairs Council, 1983), 7.

12. Janice J. Terry, “Community and Political Activism Among Arab Americans in Detroit,” in Arabs in America: Building a New Future, ed. Michael W. Suleiman (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999), 247.

13. Edward Said, Covering Islam, xiv.

14. For other discussions of Arab and Arab American stereotyping see Hussein Ibish, “‘They Are Absolutely Obsessed with Us’: Anti-Arab Bias in American Discourse and Policy” in Race in 21st Century America, ed. Curtis Stokes, Theresa Melendez and Genice Rhodes-Reed (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2001): 119-141 and Nancy Beth Jackson,” Arab Americans: Middle East Conflicts Hit Home,” in Images that Injure, ed. Paul Lester (Westport: Praeger, 1996): 63-66.

15. Detroit Free Press, 100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans: A Journalist’s Guide (Detroit Free Press, 2000), 4. Also available at .

16. Free Press, 100 Questions, 6.

17. Helen Samhan, “Arab Americans,” Arab American Institute, (11 September 2002).

18.Free Press, 100 Questions, 7.

19. Free Press, 100 Questions, 15.

20.Howard Rosenberg, “Negative Stereotyping Distorts Arabs’ Image,” Los Angeles Times, 30 July 2001, sect. F, p. 1.

21. Margie Ritchie, “Orland Hears Arab Charges / Liaison Proposed after 2 Men Make Profiling Claims,” Chicago Tribune, 30 August 2001, (1 August 2002).

22. Susan Aschoff, “Secret Evidence Critics Lose Patience,” St. Petersburg Times, 1 September 2001, sect. A, p. 1.

23. Robert L. Smith, “Protesters Say DeWine, Others Miss Israel’s Sins,” The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Oh.), 29 August 2001, sect. A, p. 8.

24. Several authors have made the connection between negative stereotypes and public policy. See, for example, Jack G. Shaheen, “The Arab Image in American Mass Media,” 327-336 and Michael W. Suleiman, “The Effect of American Perceptions of Arabs on Middle East Issues,” 337-344, both in Split Vision: The Portrayal of Arabs in the American Media, ed. Edmund Ghareeb (Washington, D.C.: American-Arab Affairs Council, 1983).

25. Niraj Warikoo, “Arab Community’s Complaints of Racial Profiling Surveyed at Detroit Airport,” Detroit Free Press, 5 June 2001, (23 January 2002).

26. Marty Lipp, “On Music; World; Sparkling New Arabic Treasures,” Newsday (New York, Ny)., 2 September 2001, sect. D, p. 20.

27. Ritchie, “Orland Hears Arab Charges.”

28. Deanna Putnam, “Lebanon-Hub Pipeline Revitalized – Generations Inspired to Rebuild Nation,” Boston Herald, 12 August 2001, sect. News, p. 20.

29. Greg Jonsson, “Muslim Clerks at 7-Eleven Store Deny Reports That They Cheered Acts of Terror,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 14 September 2001, sect. B, p.4.

30. Deborah Hornblow, “Arab Americans Deal with ‘Dual Pain’ after Attacks; While Mourning with Other Citizens, Some Feel Targeted for their Ethnicity,” Hartford Courant, 14 September 2001, sect.A, p.21.

31. Niraj Warikoo, “Across Metro Detroit: Quiet Despair Has Firm Grip on Area Arabs,” Detroit Free Press, 12 September 2001, (23 January 2002).

32. Robert L. Smith and Angela Chatman, “Arabs Fear Neighbors’ Reaction / Couple Report Conflict Near Airport,” The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Oh.), 12 September 2001, sect. A, p. 12.

33. Edward Hegstrom and Tara Dooley, “Assault on America; Houston Muslims, Arab Leaders Condemn Attacks,” Houston Chronicle, 12 September 2001, sect. A, p. 24.

34. Patty Ryan and Michelle Bearden, “Local Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks,” Tampa Tribune, 12 September 2001, sect. Metro, p. 1.

35. Hanna Rosin, “For Arab Americans, a Familiar Backlash; Harassment, Threats Prompt Police to Provide Extra Security for Mosques, Islamic Centers,” Washington Post, 13 September 2001, sect. A, p. 26.

36. Chastity Pratt and Melanie Lefkowitz, “Arab, Shik (sic.) Cabbies Offer Free Rides; Volunteers Help Families, Hope to Avoid Harassment,” Newsday (New York, Ny.) 16 September 2001, sect. W, p. 33.

37. Robert Ruth, “Arab-American Awaits Chance to Serve His Nation,” Columbus Dispatch, 27 September 2001, sect. A, p. 4.

38. Niraj Warikoo and Matt Helms, “Ethnic Intimidation: Threats, Lies Worry Officials, Residents,” Detroit Free Press, 15 September 2001, (27 August 2002).

39. Daniel J. Wakin and Charlie LeDuff, “Among New York Muslims, Support for U.S. Strikes,” New York Times, 8 October 2001, sect. B, p. 1; Ron Howell, “Local Arabs Fear Backlash Will Grow; In B’klyn Cafe, Worries that Reprisals Will Endanger Them,” Newsday (New York, Ny.) 8 October 2001, sect. A, p. 24.

40. Julia Lieblich and Amy E. Nevala, “Muslims Feeling Hate, Love of Their Neighbors,” Chicago Tribune, 18 September 2001, (2 August 2002).

41. Patrick O’Driscoll, “Muslims in the USA Live with New Fears after Attacks,” USA Today, 20 September 2001, sect. A, p. 1.

42. Robert L. Smith, “Tensions Beginning to Ease for Arab-Americans,” The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Oh.), 15 September 2001, sect. A, p. 4.

43. Sarah E. Richards, “A New World, Disordered / Venom Finds Easy Target in Land of the Free / Arab- American Victims,” Chicago Tribune, 30 September 2001, Perspective Section, p. 1.

44. V. Dion Haynes, “Support Urged for Arab-Americans / WWII Camps Still Haunt Memories,” Chicago Tribune, 23 September, 2001, . (2 August 2002).

45. Eric Lichtblau and James Gerstenzang, “Anti-Muslim Violence Up, Officials Say; Backlash: President Bush Pleads for Tolerance as the FBI Investigates a Surge in Possible Hate Crimes.” Los Angeles Times, 18 September 2001, sect. A, part 1, p. 3.

46. Saeed Ahmed, “Arab-Americans Fearing Rise of Bias; Tough Laws, Negative Polls Added to Fears of ‘Flying While Arab'” Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 21 September 2001, sect. C, p. 13.

47. Jackie Koszczuk and Sumana Chatterjee, “Muslims, Arabs Assert FBI Abuse; Some Say Agents Have Disrupted Prayers, Recorded License Plates at a Mosque,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 24 September 2001, sect. A, p. 8.

48. Elizabeth Mullener, “To Fight Terrorism, First Understand It; ‘One Person’s Fanatic Is Another Person’s Martyr,’ Expert Says,” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.), 16 September 2001, sect. National, p. 20.

49. Ron Grossman and Noreen Ahmed-Ullah, “Muslims Brace for Misplaced Blame / Area Communities Pray for Victims and for Tolerance,” Chicago Tribune, 12 September 2001, (2 August 2002).

50. John Blake, Janita Poe, “Arab-Americans Are Afraid; Bias, Backlash Are Already Under Way,” Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 13 September 2001, sect. A, p. 19.

51. Free Press, 100 Questions, 13-14.

52. Felix Hoover, “Arab, Muslim Organizations Appeal for Calm, Condemn Terrorism,” Columbus Dispatch, 12 September 2001, sect. A, p. 14.

53. Nahal Toosi and Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, “Arabs Here Feel Attacks’ Sting; Diverse Residents seek to Unite Despite Backlash,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 16 September 2001, sect. B, p. 1; Don Terry, “Community Ties Fray for Muslims / A Comfortable Suburban Life for Those in Arab-American Enclaves Takes on a Frightening Edge,” Chicago Tribune, 25 September 2001, p. 8; Jonathan Tilove, “Arab-Americans in Predicament; Attacks Heighten Struggle with Complex Identity,” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.), 20 September 2001, p. 15; Aisha Sultan, “Faces of Islam; St. Louis Muslims Lead Diverse Lives that Defy Stereotypes,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 30 September 2001, sect. B, p.1; Saeed Ahmed, “Overcoming the Stereotypes; Studies: Most in the U.S. Are Christian; Backgrounder: Arabs,” Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 4 October 2001, sect. A, p.12.

54. Karen Robinson-Jacobs, “Emerging Community a Target; Commerce: Vandals Are Striking Arab American Businesses Just as Their Profile Has Been Rising in U.S. Economic Life,” Los Angeles Times, 24 September 2001, sect. C, p. 1.

55. Wayne Coffey, “Fever Pitch / Staten Island Soccer Team’s Arab-Americans Deal with Tragedy, Backlash of Bigotry,” Daily News (New York), 23 September 2001, p. 85; Dwight Perry, “Taunting Takes a Timeout,” Seattle Times, 10 October 2001, sect. D, p. 2.

56. Tom Heinen, “Backlash against U.S. Muslims Creates Local Concerns; Terror Acts Go against Islam, Leaders Say,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 14 September 2001, sect. A, p. 16.

Weston is an associate professor in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Copyright Newspaper Research Journal, Department of Journalism, University of Memphis Winter 2003

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