Seattle Attorneys Want Five Minutes To Change Negative Perceptions Of Muslims

Aug 8, 2017

Can a five minute video change negative perceptions of people who are Muslim? That’s the goal of a social media campaign started in Seattle by a group of attorneys.

Too often, stories about Muslims are centered around terrorism, says Seattle attorney Asia Wright.  People rarely hear about Muslims' contributions to society or their everyday lives. One problem is a lot of Americans don't know anyone who is Muslim.

“Islam doesn’t come into their lives, so they have these preconceived notions of what these people are supposed to be like. They have labels. They see them as other," Wright said.

She's part of a social media campaign called #FiveMinutes that seeks to change the narrative about people who are Muslim.  Here is one of several five-minute videos produced by the campaign.

The campaign is a community service project started by Wright and a group of attorneys in this year's Washington Leadership Institute class. The Institute is a collaboration between the Washington Bar Association and the University of Washington Law School. 

Wright says the idea of the campaign is to encourage people to tell their own stories. But the project hasn't exactly gone viral. And Wright said the reaction to a post on Reddit elicited a lot of negative feedback.

Still, the hope is the videos will help spark a conversation and get people to reexamine their own biases.

Wright says the #FiveMinutes name came from the story of Ted Hakey, Jr.

The Connecticut man, enraged after watching news of a terrorist attack in Paris in November of 2015, took a gun and fired shots into a mosque next door. No one was injured.

The members of the mosque reached out to Hakey and told him they forgave him. Hakey was convicted of his crime, but he said the personal encounter changed him. He said he realized the Muslims who went to the mosque were just like him in many ways.

He said if he had only taken five minutes to know them he wouldn't have done what he did.