Growing up Muslim in America, Reza Aslan recalls, was like being Martian.
“I used to tell people I was Mexican. It was very important that we kept the whole Muslim-Iranian thing on the down-low.”
Now, as a best-selling author, religious scholar, and commentator, Aslan has appeared on numerous primetime shows and networks over the past decade, such as The Daily Show, Anderson Cooper 360, Hardball, and Fox News.
After a string of increasingly frustrating and misguided interviews where Aslan had to “tap down his astonishment,” he started to rethink his strategy.
“After about 10 years of being cable-news’ favorite Muslim, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t think it’s doing any good … bigotry is not a result of ignorance, it’s a result of fear. Fear is impervious to data,” says Aslan.
Aslan has set out to fight Islamophobia with stories told through pop culture, particularly film and television.
“Stories have the power to break through the walls that separate us into different ethnicities, different cultures, nationalities, races, and religions. They hit us at the human level.”