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Feb. 25, 2011

MSU documentary receives international recognition

EAST LANSING, Mich. - A documentary film about the fatal shooting of a Muslim religious leader by the U.S. government, created by faculty and students from Michigan State University, has received international recognition.

“The Death of an Imam” has received a Best of Festival King Foundation Award from the Broadcast Education Association in the 2011 Festival of Media Arts. The documentary has received the top award and Best of Competition honor in the Faculty Video Competition category.

Geri Alumit Zeldes, assistant professor in the MSU School of Journalism, directed the film. Co-producers include Zeldes, Salah D. Hassan, associate professor in the Department of English and core faculty member in Muslim Studies; and Brian J. Bowe, an MSU media and information studies doctoral student and visiting assistant professor at Grand Valley State University. Students Sarah Jaeger and Ryan Hurst helped produce the film.

“The documentary is a powerful medium to share stories that matter,” Zeldes said. “This work is important for all journalists to see who are covering the government, and it also has meaning for all of us as we try to overcome categories and labels on people, especially Muslims.”

The documentary was one of 15 works, chosen from a pool of 913 entries from 143 colleges and universities, to receive the award. Winners will be recognized during the BEA annual convention on April 11 in Las Vegas.

“”The Death of an Imam’ comes out of joint effort of the Muslim Studies Program and the School of Journalism to provide new critical approaches to the representation of Islam and Muslims in the mainstream U.S. media,” Hassan said. “The short documentary is an especially important and timely contribution to our work with a true example of an incident that occurred in Michigan.”

The 17-minute film examines the news reporting associated with the 2009 shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah in a Dearborn warehouse. It explores allegations of a terrorism conspiracy, the use of FBI informants, and the portrayal of Muslims in the mainstream media. The documentary was made with the support of the Social Science Research Council and is part of the Islam, Muslims and Journalism Education project.

The Broadcast Education Association is the professional association for professors, industry professionals and graduate students interested in teaching and research related to electronic media and multimedia enterprises. There are currently more than 1,500 individual and institutional members worldwide.


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.