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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. Thersites

    This seems like such an odd story, that people in the Southern United States are viewed as intolerant of Muslims when there are all sorts of horrible stories of Muslim intolerance of other groups, to say nothing of death threats and attempts on the life of a cartoonist.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Look again

      I think if you read the article, these comedians are trying to dispel a stereotype. Let's not be too quick to anger - doesn't help much.

      August 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  2. secularbear

    All religions are equally stupid. The notion that any one religion is better or worse than another religion is quite vexing to me.

    Islamic doctrine and literature is every bit as stone-age stupid as Christanity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

    Nevertheless, I will grant that Muslims are quite a bit more insane.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Brian Macker

      No some are more stupid than others. As Sam Harris has pointed out "Mormonism is just Christianity plus some rather stupid ideas." I'm not so much concerned about people believing in stupid ideas than I am about them believing in violent ideas. There is no way you could argue that all religions are equally violent. Clearly the Amish or Jains are not on the same low level as Islamists and Aztecs when it comes to religious belief.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • HOLY

      You guys are only taking a snap shot in history, historically christians have killed more people than anyone else. Look at Indonesia and Egypt, sizable christian minorities have existed for thousands of years. India was ruled by muslims for a long time, they did not kill all the hindus there. Name one european country where they allowed muslims to live among them, they killed muslims in Spain or converted them by sword to christianity. As a muslim, I do admit that currently for the past 50 or so years, muslims have been very intolerant of other people. Read Fareed Zakaria's article "Why they hate us" to understand some of this.

      August 14, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  3. Akiva

    I like how the muslim comedians are going to the south to dispel stereotypes about muslims...yet their stated purpose for going specifically to the south is that THEY stereotyped all southerners as intolerant. does anyone else find this hypocritical?

    “We came to the South because it has this reputation of being intolerant."

    August 13, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      But it does have that reputation.
      you also missed the bit where they go on to say....
      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.”

      They did not at any time say they agreed with the reputation or stereotype, just that it exists.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  4. mullah hajdar

    you hate us=we hate you back.you assault us=we assault you back.you kill us=we kill you back.why are we bad ones?

    August 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • northie

      you love us we love you back..;-)

      August 13, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  5. BRod

    “We have a feeling that they’re not actually uniformly sitting around hating Muslims.”

    They would be right!

    August 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  6. obamayakyak

    What we need is reciprocity in the Islamic world. Most Americans wouldn't feel threatened by Islam if we didn't see Christians and other groups being butchered accross the mid-east by jihadists.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Maysoon Zayid is a funny American comic who has done great work for years to bridge worlds. She's also hot.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • NoNoNo

      Andy's got the hots for Zyde..don't be shy loverboy!

      August 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  8. DrVonBrain

    Reports have it that they received a positive reaction from the population in the deep south. One of the locals grinned as he confronted them in a secluded wooded area and said: "You'd better start doing some praying for me, boy".

    August 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  9. splasher6

    I'm in the deep south I'll be nice and offer them a ham sandwich and application to the nearest 7 eleven...

    August 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  10. rs1201

    Muslims don't get it...as long as Americans are killed by muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan...muslims will be despised. As long as Americans remember 9/11, Hasan of Ft Hood, second attempt to kill American servicemen at Ft Hood by muslim man, NYC subway bomber, Times Square bomber, underwear bomber, etc...muslims will be despised, never trusted, and just not considered to be anything more than a bunch of traitors.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Ahmad

      actually it is people such as yourself that don't get it . Normal folk (insert religion, color here ) live their lives ignoring and laughing at the likes of Terry Jones and yourself ...
      we live our lives whether muslim,christian or athiest and enjoy it to the MAX. Read what people like you write and imagine the cob webs that lead to such thought

      August 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • kirk Douglas

      You are right I don,t trust them,with these people you don,t know who wants to kill you or not.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • mullah hajdar

      you are the ones who don't get it.for as long as you send soldiers to muslim lands,you will be attacked.30 in chinook,9 by ieds last 2 days,you will get it.i don't think that you understand. how much others hate you.we want to see you in the lines for soup kitchens,like your grandparents.nothing less,mf-ers

      August 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Liberal87

      Umm.. We invaded Irak and killed one million Irakis... they have every right to hate us.... Idiot.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Neil

      Mr. Hajdar,
      Your radical, oppressive Islamic theocracies are crumbling and within the last few months, many members of the Islamic faith have come to recognize the freedoms that modern democracy affords. No matter how tightly you shut your eyes and pretend otherwise, you cannot deny the influence that the Western democracy has on your life, for better or for worse. In case you're unaware, in the same sense that your nonsensical ignorant spewing about soup kitchens and bread lines is limited to the less rational among Muslims, our bigoted racists are also a minority, even within the Christian faith. For a relevant example, please see: current humanitarian efforts in Somalia. As was evidenced most recently in Norway, but really for as far back as history goes, despite the fact that all religions cling to the same general pillars of peace, tolerance, and brotherly love, each one still has its nutcases. As America embraces this fact through the help of lighthearted tours like this one, the understanding that not every member of the Muslim faith is as hateful as you will help the world become more cohesive and tolerant of one another.
      Thank you for your time and may you finally see the light that is love.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  11. Peter

    Beware the pilgrims stole this land from the Indians, the muslims will steal America from the Americans. Europe is nearly stolen.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Andrew

      Peter, short for Dick?

      August 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Doug Allard

    Laugh or DIE.... infidel!

    August 13, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Chancey

      Funny!

      August 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  13. D Frost

    Hey! Georgia ranks 49th in the Country in education and apparently, we had to cheat to get there! Don't make fun of us. It is not politically correct to poke fun at the handicapped. But Muslims? You don't have to be from the South – or be of questionable intellect – to be wary of the "religion of peace."

    August 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  14. *frank*

    Mississipi ain't for burnin, boy!

    August 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • kirk Douglas

      Are you joking ,THAT STATE.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  15. zoup

    Here's a newsflash for the Muslim comedians- you don't have to be Muslim to be hated here in the south. If you move down here from the north you're despised by the inbred, slack jawed, mouth breathers with IQ's that range from 0 to 79.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Bubba

      That's only true if you can't stop yapping about how great New York or New Jersey are, otherwise it's all good. People in the South are no more racist or intolerant than people in the rest of the country. If you don't believe me, read the news.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  16. Bid Daddy

    I'm still so surprised how EVERYONE still stereotypes the South and yet considers themselves evolved and educated. Bigotry exists everywhere, even within those that think they don't carry any. Southerners are just passionate about Christ as Muslims are about Mohammed. Both are willing to die for their principles, put family first, and have a deep love for their homeland. The American Northeast and West coast also needs to tour the South and learn how tolerant, evolved, and educated we all are.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Aine57

      There are also liberal white southerners, not everyone longs for the good ol' days of antebellum slavery, and when I was a child in the 1950s I never heard anyone say the n word. There are southern vegetarians, southern atheists, and southern gays and lesbians, too. There's just as much variation as there is anywhere, yet a southern accent, like a German one, is in all too many places shorthand for an atrocious past and an intolerant present.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • Bob

      It's a shame because I know a lot of Southerners who are decent and well educated. But the fact remains the vast majority of people in the Northern US and Canada have very, very negative stereotypical views of Southerners.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • zoup

      Stop fighting the civil war and maybe then the stereotypes will diminish. I'm a "Yankee" which means I'm a second class citizen according to most of the locals. It's really pathetic.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • D Frost

      You left something out. Your religion doesn't allow you to strap bombs to your children and send them into the town square. Jews, Hindis, Bhuddists, Christians – I don't have a problem with any of them. Islam? It's really a political system with no separation of church and state so it would be perfectly fine to outlaw it in the US.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Finnigan O'Hara

      The South has the worst health care and education in our nation. Southerners are also the most obese. The so called fat belt runs from the Carolinas through Mississippi. It is the only culture I know that celebrates disasterous defeats in re-enactments of battles and a war it lost. Southern men were sent to die by the thousands to defend an aristocracy of plutocratic millionaire slaveholders. Many, many Southerners still believe in the lies of the past that led the Sout to ruin in it's futile and shameful rebellion against our country.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  17. Bigboard

    I can see it now; the Blue Collar Caravan does the Middle East and Indonesia. It will be a hoot and the tolerant local populace will love it.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • papia

      Right, lets think, what will happen if this tour starts in a muslim country and and instead it is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Budhist group?

      August 13, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  18. meemee

    I wonder how many of this comedy troupe would draw a cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban? Do they tolerate that? If all they are doing is going to the South to make fun of Rednecks, I have doubts that they will find tolerance and they shouldn't. Comedy should not attack the prejudice of others, but rather expose one's own, and then compare the emotions.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • papia

      Let see what happens if this tour starts in a muslim country and and instead it is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Budhist group? People, try answering this first, then decide what to think of this comedy group.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • meemee

      They're trying to "educate" ignorant Southerners with sarcastic comedy, pointing out the assumed Southern ignorance of Islam. They should try making fun of themselves. Next, they should study the history of the people they are calling ignorant. What, it's the Southerners who need to learn about Muslims and stereotypes about them and not the Muslims that need to disabuse themselves of their stereotypes of Southerners? How many Western comedy groups could survive in any of the many Islamic nations she alludes to if they pointed out with sarcastic "humor" their ignorance of Western culture and history?

      August 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Kelly

      meemee,
      Did you even read the article? The comedy tour was about Muslim stereotypes, not southerner stereotypes. They weren't "making fun of rednecks," they were opening up a dialog about Muslim stereotypes, and even offering a question/answer period for people to ask them questions. And it looks like it was well-received.
      Next time, meemee, trying reading the article (the entire article) before commenting.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  19. Peikovian

    It says everything that's right about America that these individuals became stand up comics. In the old country, not likely to happen. Of course it's unfair to blame all Muslims, and particularly the ones who wanted to come here, or the ones who were raised here, for the crimes committed by Jihad. The help of true Muslims is necessary in the war against Jihad. The worst elements of 20th Century fascism and racism cheer for Jihad and are its spritual mentors.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Kelly

      Peikovian, I would add to that list, the many Muslims who were KILLED on 9/11 alongside their Christian, Jew, and atheist co-workers, and who are routinely killed in other countries as well by terrorists who pervert Islam to their own distorted ends.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • mullah hajdar

      i am a muslim and i will not help you.on the opposite,i am very happy when brothers lay to rest hooligans that you send there to kill muslims.9 more last two days.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Peikovian

      Your friends have killed more Muslims than they have killed Westerners.
      2011.08.13 (Baghdad, Iraq) – A Shiite cleric is gunned down by Religion of Peace rivals.
      2011.08.12 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Terrorists bomb a cafe, killing two Iraqis.
      2011.08.12 (Khasavyurt, Dagestan) – Two civilians are murdered by Muslim 'separatists' wielding machine-guns.
      2011.08.12 (Peshawar, Pakistan) – Three guards escorting prisoners for medical attention are cut down by Taliban gunmen.
      2011.08.11 (Tirah Valley, Pakistan) – Three women and two children are dismantled by a militant bomb attack on their home.
      2011.08.11 (Ramadi, Iraq) – 'Insurgents' kill three Iraqis in their home with two bombs.
      This is shameful and your delight in it is pathological not religious.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  20. Donald

    Funny how they talk about stereotyping and yet THEY do it against the South. Gotta love the liberal hypocrites.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • Aaron

      “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.”

      ...it almost seems as if they are trying to show that the stereotype is not true...

      August 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Nick

      You're an idiot Donald. Learn to read.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Corvus1

      The South does a great job stereotyping itself. Southerners who "aren't like that" don't take offense.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Kelly

      Donald,
      You're another one who needs to read more carefully. They plainly say, and are quoted, that they think the commonly-held conception about southerners is probably not true. Try to pay closer attention next time, sir.

      August 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
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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.