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. Maskoiuey

    I live in the South, and we have many different people here, along with Middle Eastern folk running convenient stores and working everywhere. I worked with a Pakistani for a couple years. They are all very polite and nice, and sometimes it makes me really ashamed of some people in the South (Not all of us are racist, I was raised to be completely open and understanding to all people) because when I do stop to talk to people they seem to light up and be very happy. I just hope it's not because they were treated poorly here before... I also work with a man from Ghana and he's the sweetest most polite man ever, and a hard worker too. I'm glad they're doing the comedy tour and I hope they can fix some of the stereotypes (Really? A group of naked women can cause a Muslim man to kill himself? Really? Where in the world did that come from!?) There ARE ignorant folks here in the South, both black and white, and probably every other different color too, but we are NOT all that way in the South. Racism is everywhere, not just the South.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Stymie99

      Um.... let me assure you that not all American Muslims here are so very sweet and polite - like you seem to believe. In fact, in terms of overall openness, civility, and fairness I'm pretty sure the average Muslim American is less, not more enlightened than the average non-Muslim American. These enlightened comics should first tour the middle east, and then go on the road here in America. And while they are here, they should play to mostly Muslim American audiences before addressing mostly non-Muslim American audiences.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      Well, Stymie, you've managed to disprove Maskoiuey's point in a matter of seconds. Good job displaying your ignorance and racism. Way to go.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  2. "He's Dead Jim."

    I'm agnostic. I don't trust muslims and never will unless they all forsake the quran.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      So long as you forsake the Bible as well. Considering it advocates the same exact things as the Koran (beating women, molesting children, incest, slavery, etc.) you should put your money where your mouth is and do the same. "But those passages are from the Old Testament!" you say? Makes no difference.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  3. From Kansas

    Jeezus!! It's the frigging Civil War online!! I could sit right in the middle of the US and say southerners are idiotic hicks or snooty tooty socialites, northerners are boring old pretentious farts, easterners are rude and talk funny, and westerners are all dope smoking hippies. There are plenty of closed minded, right wing whack jobs all over the country; the South does not have a monopoly on them. We have people in KS who are supportive and accepting of Muslims, and we have people here who think they are evil terrorists, and that they are going to hell because they don't believe in god. Why don't we as Americans just get over our differences and treat each other with respect and kindness? If Joe Hickster from Mississippi saw Ali Muslim on the side of the road with a flat tire, let's hope he would stop to help. And vice-versa.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • >.

      please go to south carolina! haha. those re tards could use it. we should build a fence around that place to prevent them from infecting the rest of the country.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @From Kansas

      Indeed, we are supposed to love the Muslims. It is God's will.

      But we shall not love them at the expense of truth. Let us help them when they have a flat tire, but let us tell them at the same time that their belief is absolutely inacceptable.

      Summary of Islam: You shall murder Christians!

      Nobody can expect us to accept such a moronic belief.

      Let us love our downright enemies! (Has Jesus foreseen Islam?).

      August 14, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  4. Oodoodanoo

    These Muslims are out of their minds to go down there. Anyway, good luck, and in advance, Rest in Peace.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    Don't misconstrue the crusades!!!

    The crusades don't show the nature of Christianity.

    In contrast the Islamic conquests indeed show the nature of Islam.

    The reasoning that the crusades would prove that Christianity is not better than Islam is a complete nonsense.

    Jesus never established Christianity, to conduct aggressive war against anybody.

    But Muhammad yet established Islam, in oder to unite the Arabic tribes for a war against the Christian Roman Empire.

    The origin of Islam is cunning warfare. The origin of Christianity is the redemption of sinners.

    Don't compare heaven and hell, don't compare Christianity and Islam.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • From Kansas

      We are led to believe in the bible that Jesus was sent here to save our souls. But remember that the bible has been translated and edited several times, so what it says now probably isn't what it started out to say. And seriously, who believes that anyway? Do you believe in Greek and Roman mythology? Then why christian mythology? All any religion does is give the green light to dislike another group of people with beliefs different from your own.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • A Veteran

      Yeah, tell me whether you can attend the shows in Atlanta or in Tennessee, and I'll personally buy you a ticket. You're obviously one of those who really needs to go to get some misconceptions cleared up.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @From Kansas

      Dear friend, don't make a mistake.

      St. Paul has founded a lot of Churches around the Mediterranean. This congregations kept St. Paul's letters and the letters of others. So, the New Testament came into being (of no other ancient scripture exist so many copies like of the New Testament. Why? So many Churches used this copies in ancient times).

      The New Testament was authorized and accredited by the Roman authorities very soon (from Emperor Constantine on they interfered ecclessiastical affairs). Thus, you can be sure the Bible of today is the authentic Bible without any changes.

      In the gospels you can read that Jesus commanded love. Christians shall love everybody, even the Muslims.

      I am convinced that Christianity is the only true belief and therefore I love the Muslims as human beings, but reject their moronic faith.

      Dude, get aware, what Islam is!!! Islam is declaration of war against Jews and Christians. Islam was not invented, to offer a way to God, but in order to conduct war. Get awake, dude!

      August 14, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      "But Muhammad yet established Islam, in oder to unite the Arabic tribes for a war against the Christian Roman Empire."

      *snicker*...oh, the irony...you basically just said "We Christians formed an empire in the name of God and were fighting wars and conquering others, killing them along the way, and this heathen Muslim comes along and does the same exact thing in order to defend his people from us!! How dare he!"

      August 14, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Same Faith

      That is not true..the quran was supportive of the Christian Romans because they had the same faith as Muslims. In a chapter named "The Romans" the quran prophesied (successfully) that the Romans will defeat their arch enemy the Persians in few years, though at that moment the Romans had just been defeated by the Persians. The quran describes that at this day of victory (by the Romans) all faithful will rejoice i.e. Muslims and Romans will rejoice for the victory of Romans over the pagan Persians.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  6. Glenc

    And if I did a show based on "The Christians are Coming" in Rijad or Tehran how many laughs would I get. Let's make sure we know just where intolerance lives and is enforced by law.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Dev

      Wow, how true! What a double standard, giving credence to the fact that many of these stereotypes exist for good reason. Islam has always been a divide and conquer religion, adjusting its tactics carefully in any given era of history or political climate. Take heed!

      August 14, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Jay

      so we shouldn't be allowed to do this in our country because it is not allowed in Iran? why do you want our country to model itself after Iran

      August 14, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • A Veteran

      I don't live in Rijad or Tehran. I live in the South, and for one, I'm glad to see someone taking on the stereotype in my neck of the woods. This is America, where separation of church and state exists, and opportunity is supposed to be there for all. At least, that's what I agreed to lay down my life for long ago.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • gayjesus

      Way to compare the US to an oppressive dictatorship. "They do it so why can't I" is a pretty lame argument. If you really want to feel better than the muslim middle east, you should allow muslims freedom of religion.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Pat

      Your post supports America. In America we aren't intolerant. In America EVERYONE regardless of religious leaning is free. In America if a group of Muslims want to yuck it up in the 'deep south' they are perfectly within their rights to do so. Don't compare my America to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan or the likes...it's comparing apples to oranges.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  7. Blake

    The south is intolerant for a reason. Lived here all my life. Will say it is much friendlier than any other part of the country, but come on down and look for houses to buy in certain areas and you will suddenly feel you're intolerant as well. (it's not racist, they don't want you there either).

    August 14, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  8. Hamid77

    Eh, I'm a Muslim and I was better received in the South than I was in the North. A lot of the Southerners I ran into didn't really know much about Islam, but they were friendly. I found people in the Northeast to be colder and more insular, unconcerned at all with talking to someone they didn't know.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • From Kansas

      I"m from Kansas, and I'd just have to say that people from the south are maybe just more likely to speak out or say something to a stranger than someone from the north. Not a scientific study, of course, but just my observations from visiting S. Dakota, , Colorado, and Wyoming vs Louisiana, Arkansaw, (Yeah, I spell it like I say it) and Texas.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  9. John

    The South is intolerant? Really? How about Boston and Detroit where many neighborhoods are segregated along ancestral lines? For that matter, how about the Arab, Persian and Muslim countries of the world, like for example Saudi Arabia where Jews aren't even allowed insider their borders.

    Those places make the US South look like the most tolerant melting pot on the planet. Yankees and many American Muslims are very ignorant and suffering from self denial.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  10. FlawidaJack2

    Touring is expensive, travel, accomodations, renting the venues,pay for the players. Who is paying for this adventure?

    August 14, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      ticket sales

      August 14, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • 2tor

      Apparently you have no FACTS! Read the article, it's free.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Jay

      who is paying for all of the republican campaigns? who is paying for Sarah Palin bus tours around the country?

      August 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  11. lee s

    Wow we have some real experts on people from the south in here....if you were to meet me and speak with me you would be more than likely shocked that In was from the south. Why is it so bad here that all of the northerners keep coming in droves and staying to raise their kids?
    From, Charlotte,NC.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  12. NotVeryReligious

    Take it easy – Religion is supposed to provide guidance. But unfortunately most religious fanatics follow it to the "tee" not realizing that much of what was written in the good books (of every religion) is not very relevant today. All the good books were written over a period of several years and by many people. (They really had nothing to do in those days).

    It is extremely sad that religious leaders are hell bent on making money in the name of religion and brain washing the weak into following them. Any sane educated person will realize that all this ranting about religion is meaningless. All religions have its negatives. So, just accept the good and get on with your life.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  13. Stymie99

    Hmmm... I like how the premise is that there are a lot of stupid, ignorant, and mean non-Muslim Americans around who misunderstand American Muslims. There are indeed stupid, ignorant, and mean non-Muslim Americans, that's true. I think, though, there are far more stupid, ignorant, and mean American Muslims who these comics should first target for enlightenment.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  14. Kinnis

    Take the tour to Iraq and Iran. I think they could use some tolerance.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  15. Andrew

    The south intolerant??!! Perish the thought!! they hate everybody and do it with a smile and the words: Well bless their heart"..or.."ain't she preciouse?"...my words.." Get me the hell outta here!!"

    August 14, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • lee s

      Very tolerant words their genius. Freakin yankee phuck. HAH

      August 14, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Stymie99

      I think people who live in the South would be happy to see you go.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  16. marcus

    Good luck going down south, those folks down there in them hills are not the most educated , well rounded & worldly minded people that you will meet. They are very redneck and right wing minded.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • DanW

      @marcus, maybe the show "The Southerners Are Coming" will be playing in your town soon!

      August 14, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • lee s

      Funny, Ive been to the north and I can say the same about all of the over tanned greased up gas pump jockeys I see everywhere. Not too mention you have been sending all of your trash to Charlotte for the past 25 years.(where I am from) Funny how the more Yankees that come down here, the worse it gets, and the more people complain about how :no one can drive here" Its because all you frakin idiots came down here,DUH! If all of those people are leaving the north for the south how bad can it possibly be down here? See what I did there? I know not everyone from the north is like that, just you and you ilk.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  17. fsh916

    "U.S. Christian comedy tour hits Yankee North"

    August 14, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      So there's no Christians in the North? Weird, I guess I better tell all the priests at my church that they need to relocate. And, seriously...you guys still say "Yankee"?! Wow. I thought that was just a stereotype, but apparently people still say it. Tell me something; do you call it the "War of Northern Aggression," too?

      August 14, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  18. Chad

    People look at sharia law, people look at the gov'ts of the arab states, Afghanistan,Pakistan and they see intolerance and fanaticism. They see intractable hatred, they see a stated desire to annihilate Israel and the United States.

    The problem lies with YOU Mr. Muslim. Get your own house in order. Stop trying to convince us that we aren't seeing what we are seeing.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Monk

      So I can blame all the moderate Christians for the terrorist acts of the KKK, Army of God and the Hutaree? After all, they're all Christians, just like the extremists in the MIddle East and these comedians are all Muslims.

      Or could it be that different people have different interpretations of their faith, and we should perhaps judge people on their own actions?

      August 14, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Chad

      "So I can blame all the moderate Christians for the terrorist acts of the KKK, Army of God and the Hutaree"
      If the US gov't had done nothing to address the wrongs these groups have done and continue to do, YES you could blame.

      But, the reality is different. The US, instead of actively supporting groups like that, actively seeks to put them behind bars. That's why they are tiny marginalized groups.
      The majority of the Muslim world embraces death to the west, and annihilate Israel. It's tiny marginalized groups that oppose it.
      Get your own house in order.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Dev

      Well put Chad-couldn't agree more. I've lived and traveled throughout the middle east, and you are so exactly right.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      Don't confuse the government with the people. Why do you think they came here? The same reason everyone else in history came here; their government and society in their home country sucked, so they came here to get away from it. Also, you're assuming that the people of those countries agree with everything their government does, all the time. Do you agree with everything Congress and the President do? Didn't think so. So would it be right for someone else in another country to assume that all Americans do? Of course not.

      August 14, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Chad

      I have no doubt that there are some Muslims in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Arab states that don't believe in death to the west, and annihilate Israel.
      I also know there are people in the US that believe in segregation and white power.

      It's a question of percentages, when the vast majority of a nation believes a certain way, then those beliefs can reasonably be attributed to the nation as a whole.

      White power in the US is a tiny, marginalized group who are condemned by the vast majority of citizens and a target of law enforcement.

      Anti antisemitism and hatred of the "great satan" is a view point actively endorsed by the vast majority of Islamic nations, govt and people. That's just the way it is. If you dont like it, then change the real problem. Dont try and tell me that I'm the problem because I clearly describe the situation as it stands today.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  19. Big Bob

    There is a basis for every stereotype. It's natures way of protecting oneselves.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  20. Southerner

    Who thought of this?!?! "I have an idea! Let's do a comedy tour to help people realize they shouldn't stereotype people." "Where should we do it?" "Well I've never been to the South, but the stereotypical southerner is intolerant, I saw it in a movie once." "Great idea!"

    If you really wanted this to be against stereotyping, try not to set your tour location based on stereotypes.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Brandon

      People in the South being intolerant of other religions, especially Muslims, isn't a stereotype. It's fact. I know it because I live here, and I'm surrounded by some of the most ignorant idiots out there.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Auntie Warhol

      You're kidding, right? I live in the South. The South is exactly what you say it is not. Whites are intolerant, Blacks are intolerant. People here are grossly intolerant. Somehow, you never noticed this?

      August 14, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • bhartman36

      The tour went there because some high-profile (e.g., threats of burning the Quran) intolerance happened there. It's not the stereotype. It's the actual events.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Rosa

      As a fellow southerner, I would totally agree with your perspective...except that the article specifically says they're targeting towns that have had difficulties with Muslim/non-Muslim relations. They're not just touring the South based on stereotypes; they are visiting areas that have already demonstrated some measure of intolerance. That said, I can't agree with the people who have replied to your comment saying the south is full of intolerant people. I lived there all my life (except for a year in Maryland and 2 in the Upper Midwest), and never encountered any real stereotyping. People make jokes involving stereotypes, but so do comedians; what part of the country doesn't do that? It's not intended maliciously, at least what I've heard. (Who doesn't make the standard jokes about white people and dancing, for instance?) Real stereotyping just depends on who you're talking to and probably to an extent how educated they are...and that applies to any population in the world, I would think.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      "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."

      ...you were saying? Stereotypes don't get made up out of thin air. Every stereotype has a great deal of truth to it. Does it mean every Southerner is like that? No, of course not. But the Southern U.S. has well-known stereotype worldwide as a place full of hillbilly religious zealots who live in their own ignorant bubble. Maybe if the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" guys like Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy had tried to do what these guys are doing and reverse people's opinions, the sterotype of Southerners would be less-prevalent. However, they did the exact opposite.

      August 14, 2011 at 11:13 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.