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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. Allah

    Here's some good religious humor:
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwG9pDNSAXA&w=640&h=360]

    August 14, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  2. Shawn Davis

    Both Christianity and Islam scare the beejesus out of me; they are I think the only religions that actively try to convert everyone else to their side, and claim that unless you are with them, then you are going to hell.

    I don't care what religion someone is, but please just leave me and my family the heck alone - none of your prayers at my kids school, and none of this attempt to take over the government to spread your beliefs. It's sickening.

    I'm American. My family arrived in 1635 off the coast of North Carolina, and I just want to be left the heck alone.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      good call shawn. that's not sarcasm by the way.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  3. ari

    also, why aren't those women covered up?! tsk tsk, ladies, qu'ran 24:31! you're gonna ignore your own holy book while on a religion-based comedy tour?

    August 14, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Shawn Davis

      Most Christians ignore their holy book too; pretty barbaric bronze-age stuff in the Bible my friend. We just minimize it in the 21st century.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  4. i hate christians, but really hate muslims

    this is fun. i never get involved in these posts but it really opened up a healthy debate, that will probably get unhealthy in the next five minutes. but for now, i will think about your comments and do what i can to make myself more tolerant. i already hate my username. it was a joke at first for shock value, but after i made some honest remarks, wish i had changed it to "life is short, let's not fight, EVER!"

    August 14, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • opinionguru

      You should be introduced to smallpox

      August 14, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      well, it took ten minutes, i wasn't too far off thanks to the 'opinionguru'.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Shawn Davis

      People fight; it's in the blood unfortunately. In the end, we're a bunch of apes battling over resources and primacy. Check out the research done on chimp/bonobo societies to get the full picture - 99% similar in dna I hear.

      Oh well. Hope we educate ourselves beyond our limitations, but with the way education is funded and accepted in the US now, I'm not hopeful.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Caron

      Yeah. "Opinionguru" is a classic example of a hate filled christian. (Smallpox???)

      August 14, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      ha, nice shawn, the education funding thing i mean. it's so sad, but so true.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  5. ari

    why not just read a selection of the qu'ran for a comedy routine? the punchline would be "...and billions of people actually believe this s***!"

    if the audience is feeling left out, they could repeat the exercise with the bible or the torah.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  6. Caron

    People are sick and tired of christians being judgmental, condemnatory, preachy, sanctimonious, and hateful. Its disgusting and hypocritical. If you are going to call yourself a christian - act like a christian - for God's sake.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      thank you caron, that's all i'm saying.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • opinionguru

      If you see someone being " judgmental, condemnatory, preachy, sanctimonious, and hateful" .....you are not witnessing Christian behavior.....merely secular behavior with a label on it. Police your own and go back to California ...or some other GODless foriegn country

      August 14, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Shawn Davis

      OpinionGuru: you mean like this:

      "You should be introduced to smallpox"

      August 14, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Caron

      Never been to california. And its not secular behavior. Its christians behaving badly, as they generally to do. They hate, they condemn, they judge - so they are hypocritical. Look at the christian freaks who protest the funerals of soldiers.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Caron

      Oh, by the way, "opinionguru": God is everywhere, right? So how can I go to a godless country? (Wish I could) God, protect me from your followers!

      August 14, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  7. Nacho1

    There is nothing amusing about religion whether it be Muslim or Christian............all religion has caused a breach so great between humans that it simply results in hard feelings and in extreme conditions it creates deadly wars.............I am a Christian who is against the open practice of religion............let it be private.............nobody should wave it around like a flag! Let it be SILENT and very PERSONAL...........we do NOT have to compare religious values. We do NOT have to know what religion our friends or enemies are and above ALL.....NOBODY has to go to church! Jesus NEVER had a church...he had a hill and that is all.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Shawn Davis

      Nice idea, but Christianity and Islam are both proselytizing religions by default; per orders from Jesus (who didn't proselytize to gentiles, but concentrated on Jews), Paul and Mohammad directly.

      What you are suggesting would be Christianity 2.0. It could work, but it would really be a new religion and have little to do with Christianity except on a superficial level.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  8. Elwood

    Frackathiests... It is not religion the countries you list fear, it is any organized group that may grow and become a threat to their power that they cannot allow. Also. you do not want to get into a body count comparison between religious and non-religious based wars and genocide, the combined total would make your stomach turn.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  9. i hate christians, but really hate muslims

    i think the fact that these comedians are trying to prove that (some) muslims have a sense of humor is a step in the right direction, cause laughter can heal anything. for all of you uptight, all-too-serious people of faith, i highly recommend you try it sometime. just laugh. you will feel better.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • JWH

      You missed the point, they are bad mouthing stereotyping the South as Racist.
      Yet ignoring the hell and intolerance in their own lands.

      I am in the South and everyday I see all different peoples who worship in freedom.
      Try that in their lands.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      well, it's not really 'their' land, because these are muslim americans. don't forget that.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      however, you're absolutely right about them not letting people in their land worship freely. that's because it's a different culture than ours, far more ignorant and intolerant. that's my point. so do christians want to be like that too? i hope not.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Caron

      JWH I didn't see any muslim stereotyping the deep south as racist. Where did you get that from? Your guilt maybe? In any event, everyone in this country knows that the deep south has earned the racist tag over the decades.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • JWH

      The South is almost the last bastien of Real Americans that love this country.
      They are Muslim Americas? And that makes a difference, they are defending what?

      What they are doing is equal to Nazis defending Hitler in America in 1942.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Matthew

      I was thinking the same thing. A quick search shows that Dean Obeidallah was born in Lodi, NJ, Negin Farsad was born in Newhaven, CT, and Maysoon Zayid was born in New Jersey. Omar Elba was, in fact, born in Egypt, but regardless, I think it's a stretch to assume he has no critical thoughts on his own country. I think this would be an excellent show.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      nope, that's different. cause nazis were so stupid they were brainwashed. muslims have been around for centuries and truly do believe in the quran (or however you spell it). it is sacred to them, just like the bible is sacred to christians. but if a certain group decides to misinterpret it, that's their fault and not the entire religions fault. do you, as a christian, want to take responsibility for Hitlers views on the Jews. of course not cause they were nuts. so....well, that's all i'm sayin'. think about it.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • Caron

      Laughter is the language of the gods.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  10. i hate christians, but really hate muslims

    the whole atheist thing is played out, everyone should be allowed to believe what they believe in. but christians and muslims are both intolerant, but muslims are 'allowed' to be violent. christians are not, so for the sake of ending this discussion, christians win. yeah! now go say a prayer or something you psychotic god fearing freaks! love thy neighbor, right? now LOVE THEM you idiots!

    August 14, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Spiffy

      As an atheist I find your choice of name as intolerant and a horrible misrepresentation of all atheists.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • SSampson

      Christian's aren't allowed to be violent??? Do you watch the news??? Say, at least once in the last month??? Timothy McVeigh quoted scripture in his manifesto, Brevick in Norway had a 1300 page 'Knights of Templar' manifesto – FYI, the Templars were christians... and 1300 pages is a lot...

      Every religion has gone through stages of extreme violence... If you think the average person anywhere WANTS violence because of their religion, you'd be mistaken...

      Unfortunately violence spreads easily in poorer areas (check out the crime/demographic data in the USA) – when you have poor countries, this violence explodes...

      I may be an atheist, but I do know that religion itself is not overly violent – religious fundamentalism is – and it is on the rise in this country too

      August 14, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      yeah, you're right. i was thinking about the ten commandments and how they are an attempt at being tolerant, but nobody listens to or follows them. ah, screw it, everyone's evil!

      August 14, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • i hate christians, but really hate muslims

      but also don't forget that guy in norway was bats**t crazy, just like al qaeda. that's the problem is fundamentalists misinterpreting the real message of their religion. it's something that cannot be avoided as long as there are religions out there to be misrepresented.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  11. Joe B-b-b-b-bob

    Would like to see the South Park creators do an Islam version of their "Book Of Mormon." Something like "The Koran - Bringing Peace To All Who Read It - And Death To All Who Do Not Believe," or "Mohamed And How His Armies Forced Everlasting Peace Upon The World," or "Mohamed - Gangsta Prophet!" or "Deep Down, Everyone Knows Islam Is The Truth."

    August 14, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  12. i hate christians, but really hate muslims

    of course they can have 'the christians are coming' through the middle east. it's called 'the war on "terror"'.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  13. i hate christians, but really hate muslims

    why do we keep talking about this?

    August 14, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  14. AV Dave

    I wonder if they can have a "the Christians are Coming" tour throughout the Middle East. Probably not.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Allah

      Christians ARE coming... all over little choirboys.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • Kevin

      What exactly was your point there, Dave? That we should punish these performers over the actions of people who have nothing to do with them?

      August 14, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • saywaaat

      if had read the news,you would know that christians had invaded quiet a few places in the middle east.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • Phil

      They did. It was called the Crusades.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Dave2

      I'm certain he meant in a comic sense, you know, to win them over and salve the wounds. The Muslim comics are lucky they can entertain Tuscaloosa, no problem with me, but perhaps they should be in Tehran, "spreading their humor".

      August 14, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Caron

      Allah: That was a scream! A joke not lost on catholics!

      August 14, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Xlpain

      there is a tour, we already went to afghanistan, Iraq, now were dropping off presents in libya haha

      August 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  15. JWH

    Amazing is the tolerance of Islam. Which is fine, but the intolerance to Christianity, by our very own Americas, is a testimony that we have lost our soul.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • Spiffy

      Umm... How are people intolerant to Christians?

      August 14, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • JWH

      Just read the comments below.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Spiffy

      Read them. Now tell me how they are being intolerant of Christians.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • JWH

      Come now, the F words and reference to gaes. I need not waste my time.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Spiffy

      Please show me where you found these because I read down and I see no F words or references to gaes (whatever that is).

      August 14, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • JWH

      let it go......let's get back on topic.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Spiffy

      No I will not. I really want to see what you consider intolerance to Christians.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • Yossarian

      "Just let it go" is just JWH admitting that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Granted, we already knew that.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  16. sargeanton

    Islam, the scourge of the planet, is not funny and neither are their comedians who would rather see us all dead. Why anyone, anywhere in this country would pay money to muslims for entertainment is beyond rational explanation. No American should support anything that is even remotely related to Islam, the masterpiece stepchild of Satan himself.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • Allah

      Does mommy know you are playing with her computer?

      You should go to your room and play with your dolls and talk about your imaginary characters "Satan" and "God", etc..

      August 14, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Kevin

      Read Deuteronomy, Chapter 13, verses 17-19. Clear instructions for committing genocide against non-believers.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Heretic

      As people, we should try to be civil in our responses but yours is entirely unworthy of such...Under your thought process, I suppose you should fear of Indonesian and much of the South Pacific too? There is a greater Muslim population in the South Pacific, than the Middle East; of which, the western world as no current and/or apparent qualms with its people. Have you never read The Bible, are you not aware of the many intolerant and gross passages in Deuteronomy? You may want to really sit back and think about all the blood that has and will will shed in the name of religion, all religions.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • saywaaat

      i do not like any religion.but biased and untrue comments such as yours reallly offends my intelligence.true, moslems have had their share of wars ,but in comparison with christians who have caused world wars,killing hundreds of millions,colonizing whole continents and stealing them and wiping out whole civilizations,and who hjave waged many wars of occupation around the globe killing tens of millions more, they(moslems) are like petty criminals. get over your selective outrage buddy and take a better look at yourself.as the famous saying goes,(religion is like fart,yours smells like roses and others stinks ).

      August 14, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • curious

      Why is it that whenever anyone needs to feel authentic about his/her criticism of Christianity and needs to be taken seriously they always quote Deotronomy (or some other old testament book)?? Bible has two sections – one is history and other is the new testament. New testament is what Christianity is about. Old testament (Deuteronomy et al) is common history of middle east which is common to 3 religions – Jews, Muslims and the Christians. But christianity is about Christ and belief in his teachings. So if you are really curiosu about what christians believe in , start reading the New Testament.

      Another cliche about Christian bashing is "crusades". Wasnt crusades a response to aggression from Islam? SO why do people want to start history where where it is convenient for them??

      Just enlighten me!

      August 14, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Caron

      Hey, bigot. I'll bet Europe and America have invaded, colonized, victimized more foreign countries and killed more foreigners than Islam ever dreamed of. I'm a white, anglo-saxon american, 59 years old, and have no agenda in saying this. You really need to read your history if you think the muslims, even the terrorists are as violent and opressive as we westerners are. We killed tens of thousands more Iraqi and Afghan non-combatant civilians than all muslim terrorists combined. We wiped out all American indian nations. We have propped up petty, violent dictators throughout south america, including the death squads. You are brainwashed if you think America and the west are the good guys and the muslims are the bad guys. Really childish, oversimplied view of reality.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • Heretic

      So Curious, if that's what you believe then I suppose the old testament should be removed and no longer referenced in Christianity and it's teachings. Why is it that anyone who ever defends The Bible, they always appear to convey the notion that the old testament doesn't really seem to apply to the religion as a whole? Deuteronomy gets referenced largely because it contains some of the most blatant of intolerance however, does the New Testament not speak of much intolerance in its own right? Not only is it easy to find similar intolerance, it is abundant.
      You can debate the Crusades as much as you want but Christians and Muslims both contributed to mass killings. Prior to conflict, many religions lived in harmony with one another. We also need to remember that they were times of conquest. Who was to blame; can be debated incessantly.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • curious

      @heretic,
      If you are really interested about bible, then I would advise you to read it completely and not selectively. Going back to your question : Bible has references to history so that it makes a complete book not randomly starting from where its convenient. "continuity", you see sir, is an important thing in writing. New testament is about how God has given another chance to humanity and preaches peace and love. So your claims about intolerance in the New testament, I am curious once again. Enlighten me. Please give me exact quotes in the new testament.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  17. A Christian

    There is nothing funny about Islam in the US.

    Christians in the Middle East? I wonder what would happen...

    August 14, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • saywaaat

      them invading christians have not exactly put smiles on the faces of the middle eastern people either.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • WickedNorth

      There are far more Christians in the Middle East then you realize...

      August 14, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • opinionguru

      We try an spread GOD's Word ....then we try and not miss when ordered to fire on the sand monkeys who try kill the rest of the world who are infidels. Then we pray for their sorry souls after we bury them. Do any of YOU liberal thought projects pray? Visit Tikrit ...you will Pray.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Caron

      Opinionguru: you are one sick person.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  18. W

    Why is it that everytime i read a post by and anti-religious person, their post are full of hatred and anger? But they constantly proclaim that religion is the root of evil in the world? And yet all I hear is evil and anger coming out of them?

    Could it be that if all religions were abolished and nothing but athiest and so called rational people were in charge, that violences and wars would continue? Could it be that violence, anger and conflict are a natural part of humanity that is inevitable because we are different?

    August 14, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • FrackAtheists

      These Atheists who are ignorant to the reality they fantasize about should live in North Korea for a year to get a taste of the Utopia. Then try & move back... After all North Korea is such an open Freedom loving nation,

      August 14, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • kyrunner

      @W: why is it when you read a post that conflicts with your bleeding heart strings you write it off as hatred? guilty conscious?

      August 14, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • Spiffy

      Tell me how Christians are being "hated" on.

      Also why would I live in North Korea? That place is certainly not what I would call a Utopia. I don't think you will find any intelligent person say it is.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • JWH

      Religion crucified Christ. True, there is anger towards a false religion. But a proper response is from love.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • JWH

      Spiffy, the point was NK is an atheist state, a ateist utopia, a murderous regime of godless people.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • W

      For a bunch of peace loving hippies you have alot of hatred in your Hearts, I am just saying. Everytime you talk to an atheist or someone and you mention Jesus, just look in ther eyes and you will see the hate swell up in them.

      Maybe you need your therapist, or anger management classes

      August 14, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Yossarian

      FrackAtheists, your username tells me that you don't actually understand atheism. Don't feel too bad, though. Not many people do understand it.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • Q

      @W – No hate here. I like Jesus. I appreciate his moral philosophy and teachings, but I don't believe he was the son of a deity and I don't believe theologies based on promises of eternal reward or eternal suffering for believing or not believing the correct belief are sound. It's not Jesus most atheists take issue with, it's those who claim to be his followers and who confuse their belief with actual knowledge that tend to aggravate folks. (I'm paraphrasing Gandhi here...)

      August 14, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Spiffy

      I wrote a long response to both JWH and W but it seems to be getting stopped each time. Basically to JWH educate yourself about NK if you really think they are atheistic. Because they worship Il like he is a god. And to W in my experience whenever I mention my point of view the hate is thrown at me not the other way around. Especially at my Catholic HS I attend.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • tallulah13

      I ask for answers, and I ask for proof, and because of that some christians have accused me of hatred. I suspect it is easier to accuse someone of hate than it is to provide proof and logical answers.,

      August 14, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • W

      So all of the hatred is coming from one side and not both.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Spiffy

      I don't recall saying that but I find what most Christians deem "hate" is actually something that differs their opinion.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • W

      Well the guy/girl with the name I hate Christians but I hate muslims more, That name says it all.

      I am not saying you in particular I am generalizing. The point I am trying to make is that both sides are spewing hateful and hurtful thing at each other and its really silly that evertime CNN Post a religious article there has to be a huge religious war online. If there is religion in the world or not, war and violence will be around. Look at gang violence and drug wars. It has nothing to do with Religion, but has alot to do with MONEY. Now if people say that money is the cause of evil and conflict in the world, yes that is a true fact. People are suffering right now because certain individuals in the world with evil ambitions and greed are trying to make money. These individual don't care if other suffer or die as long as they make money.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Caron

      Is not the christianity that disgusts me. It the hypocrit who calls himself a christian then judges, condemns, and hates. Its not venom towards a religion. Its venom towards hypocricy,

      August 14, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  19. JWH IS A RACIST D0UCHEBAHG

    RU

    August 14, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • JWH

      I thought you went to nighty night.

      Repent and turn.

      August 14, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Allah

      K2

      August 14, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • JWH

      Should have known you by your venom. You must be from CA.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  20. marrywhowanna

    Its a good step to create an offset..but these guys will have to dish out a heck lot of better stuff which is next to impossible as there really is no offset to beheading, women/child abuse, killing innocent people etc. The audience might feel convinced at the end of the show, but its all gonna go to waste as soon as they turn on their TVs upon reaching home. In short: Goliath is loaded with WMDs and David is missing his arms and legs.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:42 am |
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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.