Muslims make up 25% of the global population and Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world — but Muslims only comprise 1% of characters shown on popular television series in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
Those are just two of the findings in a new report issued Wednesday by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Researchers investigated 200 top-rated television shows from 2018 and 2019 that aired in these four countries and surveyed 8,885 characters with speaking roles.
Apart from the numbers deficit, the majority of the Muslim characters were depicted as adult Middle Eastern or North African [MENA] men, despite the fact that Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the world. These characters were also linked to violent acts and behavior. Over 30% of the 98 Muslim characters were perpetrators of violence, while nearly 40% were targets of such attacks. Less than one-third were portrayed as native English speakers, underscoring depictions of Muslims as “foreigners.”