Defining Islam: Propaganda

An American flag stands tall among flames. Text: Don't be like the Americans.


  1. nidanaushad

    May 8, 2014 @ 9:47 pm


    In Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi recounts tales about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. By reading this graphic novel, I was able to learn about the various restrictions the conservative government placed on the Iranian people: no alcohol, no parties, no music, no fraternizing with members of the opposite sex. This reminded me of Professor Asani’s discussion in class about negative definitions of Islam, that is definitions of Islam that depended on drawing a contrast between an Islamic way of life and a Western way of life. Many of the restrictions described in the novel seemed to directly oppose how Western societies lived. The contrast between these two cultures was made most evident when Marjane is sent to study in Europe. In Persepolis, we also see how governments use propaganda to sway their citizens to agree with their beliefs. For example, we see Marjane’s skepticism about the news and the lessons she learns in school.

    Intrigued by these ideas, I wanted to create a piece of propaganda that used a negative definition of Islam. I decided on a simple design on a black background, featuring a wall of fire with an American flag planted firmly among the flames. Above the image is a single line of text that says, “Don’t be like the Americans.”

    I decided to use a very simple design in order to emphasize that this negative definition of Islam is primarily focused on drawing a contrast between Islam and other cultures. The fire is supposed to represent the fires of Hell. Thus, the image as a whole suggests that Hell belongs to the Americans, and acting like the Americans will result in spending eternity in Hell. In order to avoid this fate, one must simply avoid everything American, justifying some of the extreme policies we see in some Islamic communities.

  2. nidanaushad

    May 8, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

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