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August 13th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

U.S. Muslim comedy tour hits Deep South

By Summer Suleiman, CNN

(CNN) - The Muslims are Coming is a comedy tour that is traveling to small towns throughout the South in hopes of opening up a discussion about Muslim stereotypes.

The tour started in Gainesville, Florida, home of Terry Jones, the pastor who attracted international headlines by burning a Quran, and stopped in Lawrenceville, Georgia, outside Atlanta, on Tuesday night. It will continue to Alabama and conclude in Tennessee.

The shows feature comedians Dean Obeidallah, Negin Farsad, Maysoon Zayid and Omar Elba. They are targeting small, conservative towns in the South where controversies over Islam have erupted.

“We came to the South because it has this reputation of being intolerant. It has this stereotype of hating other groups, so we wanted to see,” Farsad said. “We have a feeling that they’re not actually uniformly sitting around hating Muslims.”

Obeidallah, who performed with the recent Axis of Evil comedy tour, and Farsad, producer of the 2008 movie Nerdcore Rising, are producing a documentary about The Muslims are Coming. The shows on the tour are free, they say, because they want to reach as many people as possible.

“We really wanted to make this tour a chance to reach out American to American, people of different faiths coming together, laughing together,” Obeidallah said.

He hopes the tour will start a candid dialogue about Muslim stereotypes - and that it will simply make people laugh.

And laugh they did, at least on Tuesday.

The Lawrenceville audience was receptive to the performance, even when it veered into sensitive territory. At one point, for instance, Zayid joked about meeting her husband in a Gaza refugee camp and telling him to “pack up his tent”.

The shows also feature a question and answer portion with the audience.

In Lawrenceville, many of the questions gave voice to stereotypes. “Is it true if a group of women get naked, that Muslim men must kill themselves?” one audience member inquired.

“We want to answer the tough questions, we encourage people to ask the tough questions, talk about the stereotypes that are lingering in your mind,” Obeidallah said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Interfaith issues • Islam

soundoff (1,214 Responses)
  1. justan opinion

    the "one" on the left makes tiny tim look good

    August 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  2. Mohammed J Lennin

    Islam is like communism, looks good on paper, but the reality is very different.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  3. Ellen

    The "South" as in southern WI where I grew up in a lily-white environment hearing the N-word from every uncle I had. Racism is a state of mind and action not a place.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  4. justan opinion

    I figured out why they bring the "women" the Flies are attracted to them. (and not bothering the audience)

    August 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  5. quit bashing southerners

    what is it with people and "THE SOUTH"? we dont bother knowbody down here, we all dont live in trailers by the river, and we all dont play banjos. Go look for haters somewhere else. and why not leave us alone while youi are at it. How can you be funny ?

    August 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Ron Bubba Miller

      As a Mexican Jew who lives with a native american and has twice lived in a trailer by the Tennessee River in Alabama and still do. I find it refreshing people have found someone else to hate.

      August 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  6. Chad

    Probably not the right choice of words for an article on challenging Muslim stereotypes: "targeting small, conservative towns." How about visiting the towns? Targeting? Really!

    August 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  7. paulbark

    L
    Who's paying for this tour if tickets are free?
    __________________

    They're paying for it themselves, out of pocket. Were you hoping they were backed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists? Sorry to disappoint you.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Keith

      Rick Warren? cnn? CAIR? Fetullah Gulen?

      August 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  8. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    Muslim comics want to do something to debunk stereotypes?

    Here's a start. Draw a cartoon, or do a skit, making fun of your prophet. When that kind of humor fails to promote a response that includes death threats, then people will feel a little better about letting old Muslim stereotypes die.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Bubba D Smith

      I'll second that!

      August 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  9. joesmith

    once again the liberal media, or should I say a media that can spin anything..has begun to spin their web of deception, by not reporting the real truth of the Iowa caucus.. Ron Paul took second, only a few points behind Baugman, ( she gave tickets away to her booth, while country singing star was in her booth ), but all we heard was Pawlenty took third..then quit..nothing on the man who really has the answers for our nation, Ron Paul..the media/George Soros/ the Saudis know how to spin..too bad Ron Paul doesn't get the coverage the Donald received..the cream always rises to the top..

    August 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      How does that have anything to do with a liberal media bias, you nutty teabagger?

      Ron Paul has run for President before, and never come close. He has no new ideas that he didn't have before. He can only appear to be close to the lead when there's a huge field. The vast majority of GOP voters want nothing to do with a man who opposes war. Ron Paul has absolutely no chance. The media isn't going to waste it's time covering a washed-up old anarchist with zero charisma, when there's fresh new crazy faces in the GOP field to cover.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  10. Frank Miller

    Interesting from a psychological standpoint that these Muslims are touring to dispel stereotypes about themselves but are limiting their tour to the south because the south is known to be "intolerant".

    August 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      The south is "intolerant". What country have you been living in?

      End of story. Not interesting.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Keith

      No kidding. By their standards, I'm intolerant, bigotted, red-necked, hateful, blah, blah, blah...and I'm from Michigan.

      August 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  11. PlayingWithFire

    Seems as if the deep South should go to Muslim world and do the same thing.. right? I'm sure that the mid-east would gladly provide security so that some Southern Baptist / Pentacostal types could share their experiences. BS.

    Like the man said, gator food. Don't be surprised if this group is met with less than favorable results. They should be treated as equal as we would be in the mid-east dong the same thing. Get a rope.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      So you are saying that American should have the same standard as some Middle Eastern countries? That's what makes America better than many countries in the world. Also the notion that Christians can't go to the Middle East and do the same thing is not quite correct, there are many Christians that live in the ME and there are some that even prosthliyze there. By the way the laugh factory in Dubai always bring in comics from the U.S.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  12. Josh

    "We came to the south because of the stereotype that all southerners are racist to preach to them about how Muslim stereotypes are wrong."

    August 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      you forgot to finish the quote – ". “We have a feeling that they’re not actually uniformly sitting around hating Muslims' meaning they know that the stereotypes of the South aren't entirely true.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  13. L

    Who's paying for this tour if tickets are free?

    August 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  14. Alex

    This is a great idea. Southerners like to laugh and eat. A comedy tour is a good way to promote understanding. I think they will find that if you are a cheerful, friendly person, then most Southerners will reciprocate. The same can be said about Muslims.
    The media promotes negative stereotypes of both Muslims and Southerners.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Bubba D Smith

      Agreed. I'm from the south, and most think I'm a southern redneck. It's fun to see the look on their faces
      when they find out I'm a cardiologist!!!

      August 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Just wanted to say I enjoyed your answer.
      Here is a concept for people to chew on: "When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? It is because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
~ J. Krishnamurthi

      August 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  15. justan opinion

    i think the "one" on the right is wearing a flea collar

    August 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  16. guest

    I'm glad it went well.

    August 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  17. Don

    Never underestimate the stupidity of a mob mentality. George Carlin said it best: "Think about how stupid the average person you know really is, and then understand that half the people are more stupid than that."

    August 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • AndyB

      What's even worse is to think about how stupid the smartest person you know is and realize that nearly everyone everywhere is stupider than that. I went to college with a bunch of the "cream of the crop" top ten percent of the IQ chart and we were all still a bunch of morons. Hard work, compassion and understanding are the only way to solve the problems of this world, because smarts aren't going to cut it.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  18. truetruetrue

    Q: How many Muslim extremists will it take to destroy America?
    A. None, American Liberals can do it all by themselves

    Case in point see the posting of the liberal on the Bachmann wannabe

    August 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • seraphim0

      And the conservatives can do it, too.

      Stop being an idiot.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Fred

      Too late, the conservatives already have. We're living in the hell that Reaganomics hath created.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • jim

      naaawwwww ... liberals won't destroy america. liberals try to only deal with true facts. conservatives on the other hand, don't seem to. and conservatives also seem to spend a LOT of energy calling people names.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Churba

      Just a perspective from the outside, here – Australia specifically – but it looks like both the Liberals/Democrats and the Conservatives/Republicans are BOTH doing a great job of Destroying the country, because they're too busy fighting each other on every issue that matters, and many that don't, simply for the sake of trying to win power back from the other guy.

      I don't know about you, but I don't hate America, I really like the place, I just wish that you'd spend less on frankly ludicrous hyper-partisan crap, and get back to working towards the common goal of making a stronger, better America.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      @Churba,

      That's an easy wishy-washy position to take for a foreigner.

      If you actually were close enough to what's going on here, and smart enough to analyze it, it would become pretty apparent that "liberals" have absolutely no voice in America. Conservatives are dominating the discussion.

      There's also no desire to compromise on the part of conservatives, and probably too much desire to compromise on the part of Democrats.

      It's easy to say "can't both sides just get along?". But sometimes, it really is one side that's gone mad.

      August 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • teh

      @Nate...

      Your talking as if what you and @Churba are say are two incompatible ideas. The deadlock going on here is obvious not just to us, but to foreigners as well. @Churba isn't being wishy-washy - they don't think that all of a sudden we can all wake up one day and start listening to each other. It's something that will take a lot of work. Yes, liberals do need a stronger voice, and the problems with that mainly lie with the conservative desire for total domination of politics (see: conservative unhappiness at the outcome of the debt ceiling crisis) that is making our nation stagnant.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  19. haha

    Come on South, we always need fresh meat for our Gators

    August 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  20. obamalito

    It sounds like a great idea to poke fun at each others beliefs. Just bring a box full of old shoes and warm up your pitching arm in case you don't like the jokes!

    August 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.