‘MOOZ-lum’ debuts in theaters this weekend

If this trailer and The Loop’s new piece “Nia Long: The ‘MOOZ-lum’ Interview” are any indication of what we are in store for with “MOOZ-lum,” I am psyched to see this fresh take on an oft-misunderstood population. It’s really exciting to hear that Nia Long of “Love Jones” fame is participating in a project that is confronting stereotypes. Also, her role as Safiyah, the mother of the film’s protagonist, Tariq, is giving her an opportunity to voice her opinion on chadors in public institutions, arguing that we should afford Muslim women who cover the same respect we offer students who wear Catholic school uniforms:

The one thing that stands out in my mind is the commitment Muslim women make to each other. They are so supportive and so loving, and they do everything together. It’s really all about family, and I like that, because I’m a family-oriented person. I believe that whatever your religious preference, there has to be a commitment to family because everything really does start there. Hopefully, this film will help to eliminate stereotypes, because Muslim women are misunderstood. They’re strong, beautiful, classic, contemporary and so much more.

My son goes to a Catholic school where he has to wear a uniform. I attended a Catholic school where I had to, too. I think it’s a beautiful thing when you wear a uniform or a garb which represents a group of people, because what it immediately symbolizes is oneness, togetherness. I believe everyone should have the freedom to represent what they believe-in in their own way.

I am glad that Nia Long is advocating for cultural and religious respect and that she has participated in a project that aims to deconstruct stereotypes. However, I am interested to see how her character described in early reviews as “unhappily married” to a “patriarch” manages to illustrate the complexity the real Nia Long affords Muslim women. Despite possible limitations, I look forward to continuing the conversation Americans are having about religious diversity and tolerance. MOOZ-lum debuts in select theaters this weekend; so check it out and give this independent film a fair hearing.

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