A few years ago I did a cable television interview on the youth bulge in majority-Muslim countries. It’s a huge group, I told the anchor, and they have the potential to make a really positive contribution to the world.
The images played on the screen during my interview were of young people doing training exercises at a terrorist camp – images in total contradiction to my message. I was livid. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then everything I was saying was totally drowned out. When I brought it up with one of the staff he just shrugged and said it was likely just the B-roll most readily available.
That’s when it hit me. This isn’t just a problem with the type of B-roll cable television has handy, this is a problem with the B-roll most readily available in our minds. The images that come up in too many people’s heads when they hear the terms “Muslim” or “Muslim youth” or “the Muslim world” is of suicide bombers or planes flying into the World Trade Center.
Eighteen days in Egypt changed all that.