June 28th, 2014
05:57 PM ET

How Muslims flipped the script in Hollywood

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

Los Angeles (CNN) – For years, Ahmed Ahmed’s acting resume read like a rap sheet.

His first film role was Terrorist No. 4 in “Executive Decision.”

His first sitcom part: Hakeem, a terrorist, on “Roseanne.”

“I realized there was a big market out there for playing bad Arabs,” the actor said with a sarcastic laugh.

Born in Egypt and raised in Riverside, California, Ahmed - a friendly, round-faced guy - carries no trace of an accent and doesn’t look particularly sinister.

But he said he was rarely considered for parts playing doctors, lawyers ... or anything, really, but menacing Muslims during the early days of his career.

Meanwhile, a pilgrimage to Mecca, the spiritual home of Islam, pricked his conscience. He felt responsible, in some small way, for the violent images of Islam broadcast across American screens.

“I realized I was becoming a slave to the industry,” Ahmed said.

The role in which the actor was regularly cast, an Islamic extremist, has become almost as familiar a Hollywood cliché as the noble savage or gold-hearted hooker.

In films and television shows from “24” to “Syriana,” Muslims are the olive-skinned evildoers who cloak their violent schemes in religious rhetoric while cursing their American adversaries.

Ahmed wanted no part of that anymore. He quit Hollywood and went back to waiting tables, where he compensated for the bad food with a bonhomie that would blossom into a standup comedy act.

Fast forward to 2014, and Ahmed, who turns 44 this month, is starring in “Sullivan & Son,” a raunchy TBS sitcom that revels - or wallows, if you like - in political incorrectness. (CNN and TBS are both owned by Time Warner.)

Yes, his character - a hapless tow-truck driver also named Ahmed - endures a cringe-worthy barrage of ethnic jokes.

But it’s a sign of progress, in his view, for Ahmed to be considered as ripe for ribbing as the rest of the multiethnic gang on “Sullivan & Son,” one of the few sitcoms to feature an Arab-American Muslim who is a character, not a caricature.

“I don’t have to be the ‘Arab guy’ or the ‘Muslim guy,’” Ahmed said. “Those things fade into the background, and I’m just a regular guy.”

For decades, Ahmed and other Muslims say, Hollywood has put their faith very much in the foreground, often cast in an ominous light.

After 9/11, the typecasting only increased, experts and activists say, especially for actors of Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent.

“When Hollywood dealt with Muslim characters it was completely one-dimensional,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, an American writer and intellectual who blogs at TheMuslimGuy.com. “They were the seething terrorists, without any sort of humanizing attributes.”

But American Muslims may be finally smashing the silver-screen stereotypes.

Groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council consult on screenplays, train Muslim writers and connect network honchos with budding talent.

Young Muslims are producing their own projects, with the Internet as their global studio and audience.

And Muslim actors don’t just play terrorists anymore: They play presidents and “Star Trek” captains.

It's not just about landing juicy acting roles, American Muslims say.

How Hollywood sees Islam influences the rest of the country and carries deep implications for civil liberties, foreign policy and interfaith relations.

"Intentionally or unintentionally, images teach people whom to fear, whom to hate, and whom to love," writes Jack Shaheen, a longtime scholar of how the media depicts Muslims.

Billionaires, bombers and belly dancers

Hollywood’s increasingly complex portrayal of Islam flickered across American screens this past Tuesday, when Ahmed’s “Sullivan & Son” began its third season and Fox debuted a new series from a producer of “24” and “Homeland.”

“Tyrant,” a drama, follows a California pediatrician back to his fictional Middle-Eastern homeland, where his father is a brutal dictator.

The plot, producer Howard Gordon says, is modeled on the Arab Spring and real-life tyrants like Moammar Gadhafi.

“To have the opportunity to tell a story about people and put faces on the things that are merely headlines felt just too good to ignore," Gordon told Indiewire.

It’s the same ripped-from-the-news recipe that brought the Hollywood veteran critical and commercial success with “Homeland” and “24.”

But Gordon’s work has been controversial, even “Islamophobic,” according to some Muslim groups, for its depiction of their religion as rife with terrorists.

“Tyrant” displays some of the same problems, the Council on American-Islamic Relations complained after a screening in Washington this month.

“If the only thing you saw or heard about the Middle East was watching ‘Tyrant,’ you’d come away saying, ‘Man, what a bunch of savages. They deserve whatever they get,’” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Shaheen, author of "Reel Bad Arabs" and other media studies, once said that Arab Muslims are limited to three roles in Hollywood: billionaires, bombers and belly dancers.

“In ‘Tyrant,’ you get everything but the belly dancers,” Hooper said.

Secular critics weren’t much kinder.

Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever called “Tyrant” a “stultifyingly acted TV drama stocked with tired and terribly broad notions of Muslim culture.”

Gordon’s agent said he could not be reached for comment.

But Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which consulted on “Tyrant” scripts, said the show doesn’t present Islam or the Middle East as a monolith. What's more, "Tyrant," can help Americans understand the plight of Muslims who suffer under the brutal rule of dictators, he said.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, a show like `Tyrant’ would have turned into a clash-of-civilizations plotline. With Howard, it’s about the human dimensions and social realities, and how everyone is responsible for creating tyrants.”

Al-Marayati said he considers Gordon a partner who takes MPAC's suggestions seriously.

For example, the “Tyrant” script was changed to make clear that one character’s poor treatment of women does not derive from Islam, Al-Marayati said.

“We made the point that it's not religion that drives this behavior,” Al-Marayati said. “It’s a personal choice.”

Gordon has said the Muslim Public Affairs Council had a “significant impact” on “Tyrant” from the beginning of production.

“I tried to address their concerns regarding cultural inaccuracies and potentially incendiary characterizations,” he told The Daily Beast. “I may not always have been entirely successful, but the dialogue has always been open and fluid.”

The relationship between the council and Gordon wasn’t always so rosy.

The Muslim council opened its Hollywood bureau after 9/11 to counter negative images of Islam in popular culture. Season four of “24,” which broadcast in 2005, was one of its biggest tests.

The plot centered on a seemingly nice, middle-class Muslim-American family who were secretly scheming to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.

The council was one of several Muslim groups concerned about the sleeper-cell story line.

“They were creating this idea in people’s minds that your neighbor, who you think is a doctor and has a lovely home, is actually plotting an attack on the country,” explained Deana Nassar, the council’s Hollywood liaison.

“It was a very scary indictment.”

Members of the council met with the shows producers, including Gordon, to convey their concerns.

Initially, the “24” team resisted the council’s entreaties, citing creative license, until they realized that their show might put real Muslims in danger, said Nassar.

Fox agreed to run a disclaimer before each episode of “24,” stating that American Muslims denounce terrorism. More importantly, the council said, “24” began to feature more Muslim “good guys” and fewer Islamic terrorists.

“’24’ is a big success story for us,” Nassar said.

But others weren’t so sure.

Shaheen, the media scholar, said the disclaimer before “24” was laughable, and the addition of more likeable characters was a silly sop to placate Muslims.

“It was like, ‘OK, we vilified you in seasons four and five but now we’ll make it up to you,” he said.

Al-Marayati and other Muslims acknowledge that modern Islam faces unique challenges. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Boko Haram weren’t dreamed up by screenwriters. They are real threats to international security.

The council said its goal isn’t to erase all negative images of Islam in Hollywood. It’s to persuade producers and writers to include balanced, accurate and nuanced views of Muslims in their work. And it hasn’t been easy.

“Hollywood still has a long way to go to humanize Muslims,” Al-Marayati acknowledged. “But we have to start somewhere. We can’t just throw up our hands and refuse to engage.”

From Aladdin to Alice 

Few Muslim groups engage Hollywood as much as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which has built relationships with studio executives at all four major networks, and consulted on shows from “Seventh Heaven” to “Bones.”

More recently, the council advised “Project X-Ray,” an upcoming film about Guantanamo Bay, and a project with actor Forest Whitaker about a Muslim ex-con adjusting to life outside prison.

Even when the Muslim council sharply disagrees with a television show or film, it often calls for consultation, rather than cancellation.

“It’s very important for us not to act like watchdogs,” Nassar said, “because we don’t want to discourage executives from doing stories about Arabs and Muslims.”

Still, word of a recent ABC project called “Alice in Arabia” prompted a quick call from Nassar to network executives.

According to ABC, “Alice” was to be a dramatic series about an American teenager who gets kidnapped and taken to Saudi Arabia, where she copes with life “behind the veil.”

Many American Muslims said the show’s premise “reinforces old racist tropes” about dark-skinned men threatening white women.

This tweet pretty much sums up the sentiment.

ABC quickly canceled the show, saying that the “conversation” about “Alice in Arabia” was “not what we envisioned” and “certainly not conducive to the creative process.”

To Nassar, an entertainment lawyer by training, the “Alice” incident reminder her of watching “Aladdin” as a child.

The Disney movie, which takes place in a fictional sultanate, presented Arab culture as a “whole new world” apart from Nassar’s home in California.

“I loved that movie, and I was like, 'Wow, that’s where my people come from?’ It’s so scary and mysterious,’” Nassar said.

“But the the time is over for America to look at that place and its people as mysterious and exotic. We’re here. We’re in America. We’re so integrated in this society that you know we’re the same.”

Muslims are not only integrated in the United States, they’re highly successful here, according to studies.

More than 80% of Muslims say they are satisfied with their lives in this country, according to Gallup surveys, which also show that only American Jews have higher education levels.

The country’s estimated 3 million to 6 million Muslims are congressmen, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, and, increasingly, actors and filmmakers.

“The millennial generation is starting to push back on their parents’ imposition of career choices,” said Iftikhar of TheMuslimGuy.com. “There are more Muslim artists, actors, academics, writers and comedians.”

And, with the help of groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council, they’re making inroads in highly competitive Tinseltown.

Earlier this month, for example, the council partnered with the Disney/ABC Television Group to host a screenwriters’ workshop.

Thirty-five young Muslim writers applied for a spot by writing sample scripts for their favorite shows; a dozen were accepted.

At the daylong event, ABC executives and a dozen young Muslim men and women, a few in colorful headscarves, crowded around a long table at the council’s Los Angeles office.

(The workshop was closed to the media, but the council sent a description and photos, and connected CNN with participants.)

The Hollywood insiders offered advice on how to write compelling stories, pitch projects and get good gigs on studio lots.

“It's a journey to work in this business,” Tim McNeal, ABC’s head of creative talent development, told the writers, according to a statement released by the council.

“We are here to help you along your journey. If you choose to work in a creative space in television, please think of us as a resource.”

Hala Alsaman, an Iraqi-Canadian who applied for the workshop with a “spec” script on “Mad Men,” said she appreciated the writing tips, but the chance to network with ABC executives was even more valuable.

The benefits behind the workshop can run both ways, the Muslim council and ABC said. Muslims get a voice at the writers’ table, and networks can tap into new and diverse talent pools.

“If we get even one person inside Hollywood who can be a source of good information about Muslims, that’s our goal,” Al-Marayati said.

But the information source doesn't always have to be screenwriters. Sometimes the actors can change the scripts as well.

A Muslim president

Those e-mail chains forwarded from your grandmother are right: America has had a Muslim president.

His name is Faran Tahir, and he played President Patel in the 2013 sci-fi flick “Elysium.”

The 50-year-old actor also may be the first South Asian cast into outer space. He played Capt. Robau in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” reboot.

Yes, both plots are fictional, but they’re not trivial, Tahir said.

“The movies might be futuristic. But the person sitting in the theaters has to accept it as a possibility.”

Tahir didn’t have an easy road in Hollywood. There weren’t many roles for Pakistani-American actors 30 years ago. He couldn’t find mentors or hold down an apartment. He lived in his car for a while.

But Tahir built up his chops by acting in plays while waiting for film and television roles to trickle in, and turning down parts when they felt too much like typecasting.

Those oversimplifications often resulted from laziness, not an anti-Islamic agenda, the actor said, and Muslims must remember that sometimes stereotypes are accurate.

“If a show is being based on current affairs, let’s not forget that in this war on terrorism there are people who are doing some terrible things,” Tahir said.

The actor estimates that he’s played five or six Muslim terrorists during the past 15 years, but he’s also played radiologists, principals and sci-fi characters.

“Things are definitely starting to change,” Tahir said. “We’ve been in this culture long enough. We’ve been through what everyone else has been through.”

The actor himself was the source of one big change in his most famous role to date, playing the villain in the 2008 film “Iron Man.”

The script called for his character, Raza, to be a Muslim terrorist. “That would have been fine if the movie was about current affairs,” Tahir said. “But it’s a superhero movie. Why would we have to bring in such a sensitive subject?”

The actor said the “Iron Man” producers agreed and stripped the religious references from the script. Tahir wasn’t the only Muslim-American actor to benefit from the revisions.

Ahmed Ahmed, the comedian who once quit Hollywood, was cast as one of Tahir’s fellow mercenaries.

He said he still had some qualms about playing a dark-skinned villain, but the chance to be part of a blockbuster movie was too good to turn down.

Ahmed said he’s also started to take typecasting less seriously. He recently starred in a “Funny or Die” short film about “How to be a Terrorist - in Hollywood.”

“It’s gotten so out of control with the one-sided depictions of the Middle East,” he said, “we might as well try to have some fun with it.”

But as he drove onto the Warner Bros. lot on a recent morning, international affairs were far from Ahmed’s mind.

Twenty years ago he was a struggling actor, knocking around the same studio lot, just trying to find a job.

Now, the third season of “Sullivan & Son” was about to air, and the actor was readying for a stand-up comedy tour with fellow cast members. It took a long time, but by his lights, he’s made it in Hollywood.

“I’m still playing an Arab character,” he said with a laugh, “but I’m not playing a terrorist!”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Discrimination • Islam • Media • Movies • Muslim • TV

soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. billbl

    How can you get some people to strap on bombs and go where there are innocents around and explode the bomb killing oneself and the innocents? Apparently, the vicious Islamic groups are able to do this. The answer seems to be to tell them that they will be richly rewarded after they are dead. Who would fall for such a hoax?

    June 29, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
    • medpeace

      Note: You may want to get details of the religion before you talk. The ignorant shouldn't be allowed to talk of things they can barely fathom or see from others' points of view. I'de be interested to see what you're response would be to the Kamikaze Pilots, IRA bombers, and the various other suicide bombers in history. But then again first we have to know about the subject before we speak of it, so i guess you'll have to get back to me on that what's you look up some history

      June 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
      • billbl

        So because you find other suicide bombers you think that makes good sense.

        June 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
    • igaftr

      The same way you can convince thousands to go to war against people that do not believe the same as you with a convert or die command, or to insite people into killing "witches".
      Beliefs are tools and weapons. History has proven that the best of intentions can be harnessed as a weapon. you see it now with the bombers, and you saw it with the christians. You had people willingly throwing themselves in volcanoes and letting themselves be human sacrifices in many, many religions.
      They could not have all be right, but they all could be wrong.

      June 29, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
      • billbl

        Yes, I dare say that history finds that those actions were also wrong. The more that humans have learned the less confidence we should have in mystical gods and supernatural purposes. The biggest hoax in history is that when people die they continue existence somewhere else. This without any evidence at all, to be frank.

        June 29, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Reminds me of the Kamikazes in WWII.

      June 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        Kamikazes were volunteers that took out Military targets – some of our own war hero did the same when their planes were crippled.

        Suicide bombers target civilian targets – terrorism, what is more horrific than the wanton slaughter of the innocent?

        BIG BIG difference between the two.

        June 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          They both were/are suicide bombers.

          June 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          so context means nothing?...??

          June 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Context matters. And I do agree with you. The US targets civilians. We often feel we are justified. But I'm sure the civilians we've injured or the loved ones they lost would disagree with our justifications.

          June 29, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
  2. austin929

    Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish Jihadist. I love Paul, an apostle of the Lord.

    Also, Jesus Christ came from the line of incest.........Judah Tamar. God is bigger than our human down falls. Bigger than the lions den, the cistern, the river, the slavery.

    Rise up!

    June 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
  3. 1776usa2016

    Islam = Theocratic Fascism.

    It seeks to meld religion, govt, and business into one centrally controlled Fascist state.

    When you look at ISIS, they use virtually the exact same tactics that were used in Nazi Germany in 1939.

    Islam is not a religion. It is MUCH MORE than a religion. It is every bit as much a POLITICAL MOVEMENT as it is a religion.

    Islam has no place in Western Countries.


    June 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
    • igaftr

      Other than the fascist comments, the same can be said for christianity.

      June 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Same can be said for Atheism. And there is nothing inherent in Atheism that is anti-fascism.

        June 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • igaftr

          That would only be true for YOUR definition of atheism.

          Actual atheism is NOT belief, and that is where it ends. People do not do things because they DON"T believe in them.
          The same can NOT be said about atheism. You cannot set upa nation based on the rules developed around NOT belief.

          Don't bother responding since we'll be here all day trying to figure out what definitions of words you are using today.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right. Atheism just means you don't believe in God.

          So what do you believe in that causes you to be anti-fascist?

          Or are you anti-fascist?

          I don't know. Some atheists are fascists.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • igaftr

          I believe in humanity and liberty.
          Fascism takes away liberty, and tries to reduce humanity.

          See...My beliefs have nothing to do with the fact that I don't believe any gods exist.
          that is the problem when you throw the atheist card on trying to determine why someone takes an action. If they are theist, then that would be a factor in their decision making. Being an atheist does not figure in, but political, social, economic , etc concerns DO factor in.

          There was one guy who kept putting up posts of N. Korea's leader, and ended each one with his name and "atheist" even though nothing he was saying had anything to do with his non-belief.
          It was like saying the leaders name, pants wearer. The fact that he wears pants also had nothing to do with the quotes.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The same can be said about Christianity.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • igaftr

          no dala, it can't. Christianity is a belief, so effects peoples decision.
          Christianity is a belief. Atheism is NOT belief.

          the same may be said for THEISM..a base belief, but NOT when you add the dogma.
          See the difference?
          Theism. Base belief in god. Opposite of atheism.
          Religion. The dogma and man made rules based ON belief in god or gods or flying spaghetti monsters, or great pumpkins. There is no opposite.
          You keep comparing religion to the opposite of theism...truly apples and oranges.

          June 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Atheism just means you don't believe in God.

          Everything else you explained, which is not atheism, comes from a belief system. And that belief system you are coming from is susceptible to the same things you criticize Christianity about.

          What you said in your OP: the same thing can be said about your beliefs.

          June 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
        • Woody

          igaftr, when trying to explain the meaning of atheism or anything else to Dalahäst, remember the immortal words of Jed Clampett, "you're dipping your bucket in a dry well".

          June 29, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Actual atheism is NOT belief, and that is where it ends.

          Which implies there is no meaning behind atheism. Everything else he describes is a belief system, a religion or some kind of Secular Humanist organization's manifesto.

          June 29, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          You seem to be treating it as a belief system. Why should it have meaning? It is not believing in gods.

          June 29, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I wouldn't treat atheism like a belief system if atheists didn't themselves treat it like a belief system.

          Most atheists do not, in my experience. But there are some that do. We have atheist religions. We have atheist governments. We have atheist philosophies. It can mean more than just not believing in God to some people.

          June 29, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "Actual atheism is NOT belief, and that is where it ends."

          If the segment of the population that believed that magicians used "real" magic was larger, would those who didn't believe in it have to call themselves "non-believers"?

          June 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
        • Dalahäst


          June 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
    • Vic

      Most certainly.

      The problem with Islam lies in its ideology, it is a fascist one; therefore, an Islamic State is never a Free State.

      June 29, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
      • igaftr

        Odd that you would call Islam...something that has been around for over a millenia BEFORE fascism, fascist. It is not, but, like christianity, can be taught that way.

        Any baseless religious belief, if unchecked, can result in the same thing.

        June 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • Vic

          Islam is a merit-based punitive belief system with 'human dominion.' Christianity is by-Grace-through-Faith-based belief system with "Divine Dominion" ALONE.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • igaftr

          I'm sure that is what you have been taught, but in reality, the two are almost exactly the same.

          You got those definitions from a christian...now go to an imam, and get hteir definitions...you see the definitions change depending on which cult you are a member of. Not belonging to either, they are both the same.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Christian nations are generally more free than Muslim nations. Plus most Christian nations support a secular government, believe in equality and have generally lead the way to more freedom for others.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Vic

          You are asserting your opinion as opposed to a scholarly characterization of both belief systems. Islam and Christianity are more different than alike on a fundamental level, that is "Who God Is & and what His method of redemption is."

          June 29, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • colin31714

          Actually, the freest nations tend to be the most atheist. The countries with the highest percentage of atheists and freethinkers – the Scandinavian nations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand rate near the top in terms of freedom and atheism. The most Christian nations on Earth – the Congo, Philippines, Brazil and Italy amongst them tend to occupy the rung below. Very Christian African countries rate very lowly in terms of freedom.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • austin929

          Isaiah 60:7 ►

          All Kedar's flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple.

          here is some messianic favor towards the descendants of Ishmael , a Jew, who is persecuted by bigoted christians as "an a.ss of a man and a b.ast.ard"

          Ishmael and Islam are not linked.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The Scandinavian nations, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are predominately Christian nations. Only recently have atheist percentages have began to noticeably increase. Many of the ideals that Christians cherish – democracy, equal treatment, liberty for all – are shared by atheists and free thinkers.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          There is nothing in atheism or free thinking that values freedom for other people. And a Christian can be a free thinker. In fact atheists can learn a thing or 2 about free thinking from Christians.

          If you disagree with that, you probably aren't a real free thinker.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • Doris

          Dala: "Plus most Christian nations support a secular government, believe in equality and have generally lead the way to more freedom for others."

          Hopefully you're not trying to brag. From 1910 to 2010, the largest growth in distribution of Christians worldwide has occurred in Sub-Sahara Africa with an increase of 22.2% according to Pew. Would you really characterize the predominantly Christian nations of Sub-Sahara Africa as "leading the way to more freedom for others"?? Need I remind you of what's going on is some of these countries as I write?

          With respect to the more developed nations of the world, I find your assertion lukewarm at best, and can only glean from it that more people are disenfranchised more in predominantly Muslim countries via religious belief than in predominantly Christian countries.

          "[If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope." –Thomas Jefferson

          June 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • Doris

          Dala: "There is nothing in atheism or free thinking that values freedom for other people."

          Exactly what it your evidence of this?

          June 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          -: "There is nothing in atheism or free thinking that values freedom for other people."

          + Exactly what it your evidence of this?

          I mean to say there is nothing inherent in it. A free thinker can be an oppressor or a murderer, and not violate anything within the definition of a free thinker.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          – Hopefully you're not trying to brag.

          No. I wasn't trying to brag. There is nothing to brag about.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
        • igaftr

          Your belief in benefitting is an evolved triaght, we see it in many other social animals. Those triaghts were thenwritten into the religions. Man came first , then belief in gods.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst



          June 29, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • igaftr

          Simply by studying the various social animals on the planet, you can clearly see various social atributes that have evolved.
          rats co-operate, share. Prarie dogs have a very complex language and culture. Many primates we are just starting to find out how in depth their understanding goes, elephants are very emotional animals...still no sign of any gods. We even know that plants fight, react to damage, and some have even been shown to nurture their young...yet all without a brain or nervous system...how much of behavior is pre=programmed? We can clearly see the behaviors in animals in ourselves. No one can clearly see any connection to gods...except for the truly delusional.
          Man did not know why the ground shook and the mountain bellowed smoke...so they said it was a god ( Many gods based on ignorance of volcanoes...same for all gods it would appear...yours is no different, from anything anyone can show. God is mans imagination reacting to his own ignorance. There is nothing that shows that to not be true, and thousands of "gods" indicating a strong probability that it is true.

          June 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst


          No. Just because we can notice social traits in animals that have evolved with them, doesn't logically mean that all traits are the product of evolution. It appears like you are stretching things to support your personal feelings and wishes.

          June 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • igaftr

          It is not a conclusion. But it is OBVIOUS that we are not the only intelligent animals, and there are different types of intelligence.
          You can see it, observe it. We can study it and see where it comes from.

          Not so with "god". Still (regardless of what you have convinced yourself), no indications any gods exist.
          To continue to make any claims that any god did anything is still as useless as it always has been.

          June 30, 2014 at 8:17 am |
        • igaftr

          You claim I am stretching it, when you claim to "know" god exists, stretching your imagination to the point you have convinced yourself it is a truth.

          June 30, 2014 at 8:21 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I really don't get your argument. I know there are different types of intelligence. I know animals display intelligence that humans seem to be incapable of grasping.

          You don't know everything there is to know. There may be a way to intelligently know God. There are indications that God exists. It is narrow-minded to say knowing God is useless.

          June 30, 2014 at 9:20 am |
      • Vic

        ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

        God Bless The USA

        June 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • 1776usa2016

          Jesus Christ did not exist.

          Religion is Fairy Tales for Adults.


          June 29, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
  4. yoranidiot

    Little by little, the Liberal media is easing the Muslim terror belief system into the fabric of every day life here in America. If you would simply read the Koran, it teaches Muslims to kill the infidels, and lie to them in order to convert them if needed. If you don't own a gun now, please, for the sake of your families survival, buy one. And those of you haters and iPoop users at Starbucks that do not agree, please move on. Or, just move to Riyadh.. k?

    June 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
    • igaftr


      By the way, it should be "you're" not yor, but what would anyone expect with a name like that.
      Grow up.

      June 29, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      • Athy

        Actually, "your" is correct, but it should be "family's" instead of "families."

        June 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • Athy

          Grammatical errors in screen names don't count.

          June 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
    • medpeace

      The "infedel" information is incorrect. Pick one thing out of context and you change the whole meaning. AKA politics. Give yourself some time to actually gain some knowledge instead of being fed lies and information from second rate news sources and you'll find the Quran say "enjoin good and forbid evil." It also says, "if a man kills a life it is as if he has killed all of mankind, if a man saves a life it is as if he has saved a ll of mankind" Shut out the ignorant remarks people spew out and go learn for yourself before you except something as truth.

      June 29, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
  5. ignuyole

    It's kind of ironic to see black people convert to islam considering muslims were the first to conquer and enslave them.

    June 29, 2014 at 11:34 am |
    • igaftr

      False. Slavery had been going on for thousands of years including blacks. Long befiore Islam existed, long before christians existed.

      June 29, 2014 at 11:39 am |
  6. realbuckyball

    Yeah right. Who ELSE is perpetrating suicide bombings at this scale ?
    Why is it there is NO Fatwah on terrorism by Ali Sistani ?

    June 29, 2014 at 11:17 am |
  7. mimidehami

    Pleased that CNN finally produced an intelligent article on Muslims. I've been going to Muslim countries for years, and 9/11 aside, I've not seen the violence prevail that is advertised 24×7 on American TV. Sure, just like we have gun deaths, they have problems too, but the countries are packed full of people, full of humanity, and it's a shame that they are so badly stereotyped as uncaring and evil. It's really not true, and it's time to break out of the mold, just like black americans did years ago.

    June 29, 2014 at 9:41 am |
    • workingcopy12

      Tell us...did you read the article about honor killings in Pakistan? I believe the majority of Muslims outside of the U.S. are peaceful when a majority of the Muslims outside of the U.S. are, in fact, peaceful.

      June 29, 2014 at 10:57 am |
      • workingcopy12

        Sorry..."I will believe..."

        June 29, 2014 at 10:58 am |
      • workingcopy12

        "According to the United Nations, some 5,000 women are murdered by family members in honor killings every year.

        However, women's advocacy groups believe the crime is underreported and that the actual death toll from this all too common crime is actually much higher.

        In Pakistan, 869 women were victims of honor killings last year, according to the country's human rights commission."

        Sick. Sick. Sick.

        June 29, 2014 at 11:18 am |
  8. timcon57

    All Muslims clearly aren't terrorists, but we probably won't see a lot of Norwegians cast as terrorists until they start flying planes into the Pentagon. 20 years ago, all of the terrorists were Germans or from Eastern Europe. Why? Duh, German terrorist activity in the 70s and 80s. As much as CNN and the apologist groups would like to cast this as racial or religious bigotry, it isn't. Do we need more compassionate, accurate portrayals of Muslims? Sure. But when an action movie needs a terrorist, they won't look for a Norwegian.

    June 29, 2014 at 8:57 am |
    • glennstehle

      Since Brzenzinski persuaded Carter to militarize the US's energy policy in the late 1970s, and the US became the top purveyor of state-sponsored terrorism in the world, beginning with its support of the mujahideen in Afghanistan, maybe the most appropriate nationality for a "terrorist" would be an American?

      June 29, 2014 at 9:22 am |
    • mimidehami

      You've missed the entire point of the article–which is to say that Arabs are sick and tired of being portrayed ONLY as terrorists (bombers, billionaires and bellydancers). I grew up in Wyoming–was born there. I remember what I thought of Arabs.My dad used to say "we should bomb everyone over there and just wipe them off the map." He was a Christian, by the way. 😉 When I moved to London and met many Arabs and Muslims, in general, and I count some really good friends among them. Some of them were from Muslims countries and no longer practiced "religion" and some of them drank alcohol, and some of them were religious and did not–and many of them were Christian Arabs. When I first travelled to Algeria, I remember the police and immigration holding my passport and passing it around and telling me (my husband translating) how GREAT it was to have me in their country. The USCIS didn't make my husband feel so welcome. I learned, by experience only, to dump the United STates' Press's vision of Muslims, Iranians and ARabs as stupid simpletons. I leaned that women in the Middle East now make up the largest population of college goers in their region, and life, though hard, in many Muslim countries is not about Terrorism, or Social Backward people, or OIL, as many claim... it's about humanity. Far from Wyoming, I had to conclude that the things I was taught about "these people" were just plain WRONG.

      June 29, 2014 at 9:52 am |
      • alakhtal

        thank you

        July 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
    • mimidehami

      Yes, we DO need a more compassionate portrayal of Muslims–just like the 1940's needed a more compassionate portrayal of Jews than was going on there! We had all of Europe, sucked into a WAR with Jews–where pro-Nazi sympathizers were starting to pop out in each country, just like they are now arising again, due to the Muslim immigrants coming in. The Jews were rounded up and taking to camps–such a threat they were–and were labeled not as terrorists–but much the same thing–sneaky, underhanded, people who had a horrible religion that was full of horrible teaching. The only good Jew, in those days, was a convert to Christianity. France "fell" to Hitler"–I now know, after having lived there, because of their SYMPATHY towards Hitler and not because of their poor fighting skills or the superior fighting skills of the Nazis. There were many French who sided with the Nazis, in fact–but the REISSTANCE MOVEMENT–the same RESISTANCE we need int he USA – WAS STRONGER. It resisted AGAINST hatred. AGAINST killing all Jews, and now, must RESIST to kill Muslims for being !) terrorist 2) all bad 3) their religion evil 4) abusers of women (Jewish men were once labeled as such too–for their odd rules against touching women, the meat they ate, etc. It's time to wake up and realize what we have done, along with the EU to characterize Muslims. It's wrong, and needs to stop–just like it was wrong, against Jews, not so many years back.

      June 29, 2014 at 10:21 am |
      • tseringdolker

        I just don't agree with a council that now dictates how a culture should be portrayed, just like how they are stifling free speech in media and banning anybody they cannot shut up from either getting a visa or suing them in court. Islam is a hateful religion, but that doesn't mean most Muslims are. Both the Boston bombers were pretty well adjusted young men in a western country until they started taking Islam seriously. Most of the 9/11 bombers have masters or even Phds but they ran a plane into world trade center. until Islam is challenged as an idea, good Muslim or bad muslim is just a name. Muslims refuse to integrate into the society they CHOSE to live in, unlike many other cultures who never have such demanding intolerant people come into their country and demand special privileges.

        June 29, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  9. henryandeliza

    um, the FIRST South Asian cast in outer space....did none of you CNN guys watch Star Trek DS9? remember THE DOCTOR????????????????? Siddig el Fadil?

    June 29, 2014 at 8:21 am |
    • igaftr


      When did they move Sudan to South Asia? It was in Africa last I checked.

      June 29, 2014 at 8:50 am |
  10. shehar39

    our daily dose of indoctrination continues

    June 29, 2014 at 8:20 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Did you expect stories of Cinderella on a BELIEF blog?

      June 29, 2014 at 8:31 am |
  11. wyoming21

    How Irish people have been portrayed over the years in Hollywood........Drunk #2...........Drunk Irish Priest.....Drunk Irish thug connected to the IRA.......Drunk Irish girl beaten by her Drunker Irish boyfriend. AND Drunk irish cop on the take to pay for his drinking habit. BUT that's the norm....We enjoyed being the focus of these stereotypes.

    June 29, 2014 at 8:20 am |
    • glennstehle

      When it comes to the dishonest stimatization charateristic of ideological and imperial one-upmanship, Catholics have certainly received their fair share of abuse.

      The Black Legend was fabricated by English and Dutch imperialists to rob the Catholic Spanish empire of any moral legitimacy. Although a horrible distortion, exaggeration and half-truth, it still has legs today, almost five centuries after its invention.

      June 29, 2014 at 9:33 am |
      • igaftr

        Catholics have earned a great deal of the reputation, from the Inqusition, to corrupt and sick popes, to the relationship with Napolean to the reichsconkordat to the child abuse cover up that continues to this day.
        Considering how corrupt they and their blindly standing in the way of progress ( like contraception to prevent disease spread), the Catholic churches have earned their reputation.

        June 29, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • wyoming21

          please don't confuse Catholics with sick pedifile priest....... Although not as much, Jews and other Christian Churchs have also had their share of similar sick-o's.

          June 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • igaftr

          I didn't. There are many ped0philes, in all walks of life.

          I DO however, blame the Catholics for the continued hiding, denying, and sheilding from prosecution those that abused children, and those that kept the coverup going. THAT is squarely on the church.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • mimidehami

      Yes, but Wyoming 21, you were not stereotyped as a killer–or worse–everyone that looks like "you" characterized as a terrorist and everyone of your religion stereotyped as someone who is violent and likely to harm people or abuse women. Jump ahead here. I took my Arab and Muslim husband to Wyoming, for our wedding, as it was my home state. We hung out and camped in Jackson Hole. He had no idea what people thought of Muslim Arabs. The royal joke of the family is him sitting around a campfire, sitting away from all of us, concerned about my Aunt's dog, Jack, who was tied to a tree. He told the dog to "have seat" instead of "SIT" and we all busted out laughing when one of the family told my husband that no one had ever talked so nicely to that dog. Turns out, my husband made a hit with my mom, cooking 5 start meals for the family (he's a pro chef) offering to do laundry and babysitting kids. He's a good dad and he's tried his best. But the fact is, the stereotype remains, and it's there for my kids to deal with, now that they are getting older. We don't need a world where everyone thinks Muslims or Arabs and Iranians are bombers–any more than the world should see Americans as all wealthy and all spoiled and all bent on killing people with guns. I support Arab American comedians in their effort to show the humanity of Muslims–just like the Jews were able to do in Hollywood so many years ago. Movies need to focus on the positive–not just negative aspects of people's lives. I doubt that you'd be in favor of having Irish folks playing killers and their religion portrayed as violent in every single film, TV show and newspaper article. Being a drunk is one thing–killing people and teaching others that you're a silent but would-be killer and abuser of women is not something I'm prepared for my 7 year old daughter and 9 year old son to realize they ARE in the eyes of 90% of America. The shift to reality needs to happen for Americans.

      June 29, 2014 at 10:12 am |
      • wyoming21

        While true....The difference is many Irish people in America and across the World spoke out against terrorist activity of the
        IRA back in 1970-80's.......No such action has happened thus far from the Muslim community when it comes to Islamist terrorist events worldwide.

        June 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • workingcopy12

      Drunk #2? I loved that character! Drunk #3 was just too surly for me.

      June 29, 2014 at 11:12 am |
    • alonsoquixote

      From The Great Famine and the Irish Diaspora in America edited by Arthur Gribben:

      In the 1880s, the Irish were still generally regarded as the most disruptive element in the nation. The mainstream press reinforced and promoted a stereotypical image of the Irish as "socially troublesome and inferior—a lower order of mankind." Negative portrayals of the Irish became a regular feature of late nineteenth-century graphic humor. The popular stereotype of Irish "Paddy," a drunken, childlike, often truculent oaf, was a creation of early Victorian imagination. "Paddy" made his first appearance in American periodicals after the Civil War and became a staple figure in Puck and Harper's Weekly until well after the turn of the century.

      The Anglo-Saxon dimension was unmistakable. In many caricatures, "Paddy" is a riotous, reckless fanatic, "eternally hostile to Great Britain." In others, he is a drunken, priest-ridden fool, more content to wallow in squalor and indolence than to embrace the more proper Yankee (i.e., Anglo-Saxon) virtues of sobriety and thrift. Irish women fared little better. The stereotype Irish-American female was "Queen of the Kitchen," a "funny, disorderly, hardworking but unpredictable servant girl" who squandered her hard-earned wages in support of squalling children, dissolute husbands, and lazy, feckless relatives.

      By the turn of the century, the image of the Irish in graphic humor was in transition. "Paddy," the bomb-wielding fanatic and booze-gorged gorilla, was giving way to less strident portrayals. In the Hearst papers "Happy Houligan," a whimsical shanty Irishman, began to share the comic pages with "Jiggs" and "Maggie," an upwardly mobile lace-curtain couple.

      But an element of condescension remained. Houligan, along with Mickey Dugan and his gang of Irish street urchins of "Hogan's Alley," stood as prototypical urban slum dwellers. Jiggs and Maggie, who had escaped the slums, were objects of bemused contempt: Jiggs because of his pugnacity, his fondness for drink, and his lingering attachment—despite his wife's objections—to the saloon and his old working-class pals; Maggie for her social pretensions and her relentlessly unsuccessful efforts to ingratiate herself with the native-born elite. By the eve of World War I, the post-Famine days of "No Irish Need Apply" had passed. Yet discrimination survived in more subtle ways, and the stereotypes of the nineteenth century continued to taunt the Irish well beyond the turn of the century.

      One explanation for the origin of the term "Paddy wagon" for a police vehicle used to transport people to jail was the tendency to regard the Irish as a criminal element in society and the use of "Paddy" as a shortening for what was perceived as a common Irish name, "Patrick". Though another explanation attributes it to a high percentage of Irish cops in some American cities becoming the term used for the vehicle driven by cops to transport people to jail. The use of the word "hooligan" to describe someone who engages in disruptive or unlawful behavior such as rioting, bullying, and vandalism also has Irish roots. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary states the word may have originated from the surname of a fictional rowdy Irish family in a music hall song of the 1890s, though Clarence Rook, in his 1899 book, Hooligan Nights, claimed that the word came from Patrick Hoolihan (or Hooligan), an Irish bouncer and thief who lived in London.

      I've seen many 19th century cartoons where Irish characters in the cartoons are portrayed with very simian features. E.g. from “It doesn’t factor in. . .” or, “to consti_tute the Irish as something other than the American ‘white working class.’ at sumnonrabidus.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/%E2%80%9Cit-doesn%E2%80%99t-factor-in-%E2%80%9D-or-%E2%80%9Cto-consti_tute-the-irish-as-something-other-than-the-american-%E2%80%98white-working-class-%E2%80%99/ (you'll have to remove the underscore from "consti_tute" in the URL, because of the filter used for postings):

      From the mid-1800s, dailies, weeklies, and journals were littered with simian and bestial depictions of the Irish immigrants. Linneman gives an apt description of “the comic Irishman” of this period: “He was caricatured as a hirsute, muscular labourer, with cheek whiskers, a broad lip, a button nose, and prognathous jaws. Sometimes the features were distorted to give a simian aspect.”

      There's also a political cartoon at that web page depicting how many Americans view Muslim Americans today.

      June 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
    • alonsoquixote

      I mistyped an ending tag for altering the display of the excerpt from The Great Famine and the Irish Diaspora in America to show the portion of my comment that was from the book. The quote ends with the sentence "Yet discrimination survived in more subtle ways, and the stereotypes of the nineteenth century continued to taunt the Irish well beyond the turn of the century."

      June 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  12. wyoming21


    June 29, 2014 at 8:14 am |
  13. blessed137

    I understand Ahmed not wanting to be involved with movies that demean his beliefs. He is devote and wants those to not have the preconceived notion that all muslims are evil terrorist. Their are alot of muslims that have no violent intent and just want to live in peace. However when people are making movies that are fact based on muslim terrorist group or individual muslim person. that do commit crimes of violence, or real life scenarios as long as its truthful, there is no harm in it. Im not in denial that most Hollywood movies twist the truth. Which I dont agree with. Its no different than a movie being made about christians that think their doing work of God killings or evil actions because they self interpret scripture to suit their own agenda. Or their just plain lunatic. I agree their are many of them. Like Hitler for example. If its true then so be it. But honestly Hollywood stick to the facts. Regardless of whatever movie your making no need to lie just to sell movies. God bless Ahmed. Peace.

    June 29, 2014 at 7:55 am |
    • igaftr

      "no need to lie just to sell movies"

      Seriously? Even the movies based on reality are lies.
      Even when they claimit is the author, Like Bram Stokers Dracula was NOTHING like the book, they changed the whole theme..
      Movies are nothing but various lies to sell their product.

      June 29, 2014 at 8:12 am |
      • blessed137

        I agree most movies are lies. They dont have to be. Then again there would be no movies most people would find entertaining enough to watch.

        June 29, 2014 at 9:04 am |
        • igaftr

          It is the norm for entertainment.

          Stories have been told for countless centuries and a bit of embellishment has always gone along with it.
          The bible is a good example. A bunch of stories that got overembellished to the point of the supenatural, yet some people can't recognize it is the same thing. Storytelling was the mopst common way to entertain or to teach, like Aesops fables, the works of Homer, and the writers of the bible...taking a story that may or may not have had a basis in reality, then embellishing it to stress a point or make some moral of the story. Actually all religions started the same way.

          June 29, 2014 at 9:15 am |
        • realbuckyball

          Depends on your definition of "lies".
          For thousands of years, humans have imparted "truths" by mythology. (As did the Bible).
          (See Dr. Rudolph Bultman, Professor of NT "Jesus Christ and Mythology")
          Only ignorant, illiterate Fundie Americans think "historically accurate" is the ONLY way to impart truth.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • igaftr

          this reminds me of something I was watching the other day.
          The "worlds formost expert on the Loch Ness Monster" was on.
          They explained that this man had studied the reports, went on many expeditions in the loch looking for Nessy, even went so far as to do an extensive sonar mapping, meticulously using science to find Nessy.
          His result. There is no Nessy. Not a single trace could be found, but he did come up with various reasons for the sightings that are quite reasonable.
          At the end, he said something that I wish all believers of the baseless could do. And I Paraphrase, but he said that all his long efforts of looking had brought him to the same conclusion that has been reached by many psychologists and psychiatrists around the world...people will believe whatever they WANT to believe. Then those believers will bolster each others beliefs, thus perpetuating myths and forifying beliefs.

          Religions are a side effect of that simple reality.

          June 29, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • relmfoxdale

          Not most. All. Every single "true story" is embellished. Often beyond recognition.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
      • mimidehami

        Well, I just tried to make a pro-Arab / Muslim comment and it's still "awaiting moderation." If you believe the media "tell the truth" about Arabs and Muslims, try booking a holiday with a few Muslims and travel to their country and go inside their homes. It's no good to visit and not know anyone. Get to know some locals, by means of translators, and you will find that almost every man you meet looks like "a terrorist" until you get to know him. That's when it sinks in that you've been duped by your saturation in what Hollywood and the press think of Arabs and Muslims–and like Ahmed said, they are just "regular people." Any less is just stereotyping that has led our country down the path of hate towards people we know nothing about.

        June 29, 2014 at 9:57 am |
        • igaftr

          If your comment went immediately to awaiting moderation, it was not due to content, but most likely something that got caught in the automatic word filter, or you used emoticons which will trigger it as well. No one is instantly reading and blocking comments for content.

          June 29, 2014 at 10:01 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          Did you include URLs in your posting? Some may trigger the "awaiting moderation" response. If it goes to that state, your comment is unlikely to ever appear. Your comments may also disappear with no explanation if you have words in your posting that include disallowed text strings. E.g., "t i t" without the space between the letters is not allowed, even when it occurs in commonly used words such as "substi_tute" or "ti_tle". There is a long list of commonly used words that will cause comments to never show up, e.g. "docu_ment", since it contains "c u m", which is why you will see many comments containing spaces, underscores, or periods within a word so that the poster can use the word without triggering the automatic filter.

          June 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  14. bostontola

    Also in the news today:
    (CNN) - A young newlywed couple in northeastern Pakistan died a horrible death at the hands of the bride's family in the latest honor killing in the nation, police in Pakistan said Saturday.
    The couple, identified as Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were married by a Pakistani court on June 18 against the wishes of the Bibi family, Punjab police official Mohammad Ahsanullah told CNN.
    On Thursday, the bride's father and uncles lured the couple back to the village of Satrah in Punjab province, where Ahsanullah said the pair were tied up and then decapitated.

    June 29, 2014 at 7:48 am |
    • rs1201

      As long as the news report of violent beheadings by Muslims and refer to them as honor killings, muslims don't have a prayer at being considered normal. Hollywood is a place that makes movies to help us escape reality...we can't escape the reality of 9/11...that's been engraved in our brains never to be forgotten. I meet a muslim and I secretly wonder...so, how does he or she feel about 9/11?

      June 29, 2014 at 8:21 am |
      • bostontola

        There are hundreds of honor killings each year. That may be a small percentage, but it is perceived as so brutal and barbaric, that it does affect western perception of that religion. It's like how Italians were perceived as Mafia in the movies, only on steroids.

        June 29, 2014 at 8:38 am |
      • medpeace

        i have an interesting story to tell you. Living in NY, Being there when it happened. A lot of people from all different races, ethnicitys and religions lost lives and loved ones. Risked their lives to save others. Even muslims. So give them a chance. I saw it happen, i know what i saw, and in the end if some one helps to save a life of another, they're 100% rock solid in my book.

        June 29, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
  15. 19covenant19

    Great MIRACLES have been discovered in the BIBLE and the QURAN.
    It will change the World forever!


    June 29, 2014 at 6:36 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Thou shalt not steal!
      Using CNN to promote your website is theft of advertising space...bad Christian-you should be ashamed of yourself.

      June 29, 2014 at 6:46 am |
  16. Vic

    Wow, that was a long read!

    For some reason Sacha Baron Cohen comes to mind! Maybe because of Ali G, Borat, The Dictator, ...

    I wonder if Keither Sutherland of "24" would make a cameo appearance on "Sullivan & Son"—sounds like a spin-off from "Jefferson and Son."

    All in all, those depictions beg the question, "Aren't those true lies?" Oh, that reminds of "True Lies" too. LOL.

    June 28, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
    • Vic

      Oops, I meant "Sanford and Son," it's been a while since that sitcom.

      June 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
  17. Keith

    Nasty murderous people that want to rule the world by the laws of their imaginary masters.

    June 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
    • thesamyaza

      What do southern baptist have to do with anything.

      June 28, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
      • Keith

        LOL, those guys are everywhere aren't they

        June 29, 2014 at 9:39 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Christianity Take 20...Extremist Muslims are not much different than Christians and the vast number of atrocities attributed to them, the only difference is that Christians didn't have the same technology to commit their crimes against humanity.

      June 29, 2014 at 7:00 am |
      • glennstehle

        But the true believers in some of the leading secular ideologies, like Nazism and Bolshevism, certainly had "the technology to commit their crimes against humanity."

        June 29, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Oh but the leader of the Nazi's was Christian! I, however, was referring to the Crusades; the Inquisition; The Salem Witch Hunts....to name a few of the things that Christianity has blood on their history books for.
          Much like Christians have been put in their places, Muslims eventually will be also or so one can hope.

          June 29, 2014 at 9:50 am |
      • Keith

        Oh yes, I do know that, in fact in order for me to leave Christianity I had to become a student of comparative religion for many years. As you inferred every religion goes through a life cycle that includes murder, death and destruction. I would like to live long enough to see if the Sikh or the Ba'hia go through a similar period, since they are 15th and 16th century religions.

        June 29, 2014 at 9:51 am |
    • awanderingscot

      isn't it true that you are only here trying to destroy someone's faith? isn't it also true that you are a hateful person who hates God and hates His children and that's the only reason you are here?

      June 29, 2014 at 11:02 am |
      • igaftr

        No , it is not true.

        June 29, 2014 at 11:08 am |
      • Keith

        I am not powerful enough to destroy anyone's faith. I know many truths and I have my own beliefs forged in the fire of a long life. As far as hating "god" I don't think I have ever considered that at all. There are some gods that I do not believe in, but my major position is that I hate Religion. I believe that Organized Religion is on of the most destructive forces in human history.

        The only reason I am here is to discuss religion and philosophy with folks that want to spend some time doing that.

        July 1, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
  18. thesamyaza

    i miss the old Arabia hot night, uninhabited people, exotic substantiates. the all of The Abrahamic god come through and ruins the party. sucks to because Arabian women are some of the finest female specimens of the human race.

    June 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
  19. Reality

    "In films and television shows from “24” to “Syriana,” Muslims are the olive-skinned evildoers who cloak their violent schemes in religious rhetoric while cursing their American adversaries."

    That actually sums up the real Muslims everywhere, not just Hollywood but there is an easy solution/cure:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    June 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      well aren't you just the broadbrusher of all sorts, never met a man of God you haven't hated right? tell me why your hatred is any better than the extremist with the bomb strapped to his chest. is it because you are so self-sufficient, always trusting in yourself and never needing the reassurance of a divine hand? Let me just point out something as an example for you wise guy; WWII was won by men of God, not hate-theistic supermen. it was won by men who believed they had God on their side and that Germany was led by evil godless men. this country is in a free-fall of moral decline and it's only a matter of time before we are attacked by an evil gang from some other country or countries; don't believe me? read your history books. And when this does happen, you'd better hope there are still some real men of God around to protect your sorry ass.

      June 29, 2014 at 12:55 am |
      • Doris

        Snotty: "WWII was won by men of God, not hate-theistic supermen. it was won by men who believed they had [blah blah blah]"

        Speak for others much, Snotty? It really seems like you want to clench that Sanctimonious Bag of Wind prize away from Rainer.

        June 29, 2014 at 1:19 am |
        • Reality

          The Twenty (or so) Worst Things GOD'S CREATURES Have Done to Each Other:

          M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

          Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

          1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

          2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

          3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

          4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

          5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

          6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

          7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

          8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

          9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

          10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

          11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

          12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

          13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

          14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

          15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

          16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

          17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Christians)

          18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

          19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

          20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

          June 29, 2014 at 7:01 am |
      • observer


        Greatest number of American casualties in ANY war came from fighting Christians.

        The men of God from the North fought the men of God from the South.


        June 29, 2014 at 2:46 am |
        • awanderingscot

          isn't it true that you are a hateful person who hates God and hates His children and that's the only reason you are here?

          June 29, 2014 at 11:06 am |
        • Doris

          What a silly question, Snotty. You're asking a question that would only make sense for someone who holds a belief in your Abrahamic God.

          June 29, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • Doris

          Let's be clear: Your question is silly. It would only make sense if you were directing at someone who holds a belief in your Abrahamic God.

          June 29, 2014 at 11:53 am |
      • Reality

        The list of The Twenty (or so) Worst Things GOD'S CREATURES Have Done to Each Other:was supposed to be under awanderingscot's comment. And the cure for the Muslims' brainwash is one of great concern not hatred.

        June 29, 2014 at 7:06 am |
      • igaftr

        " WWII was won by men of God"
        And lost by men of god as well scot. Or do you forget what was on the belt buckle of every German soldier? they believed your god was on their side as well. No sign that any gods got involved either way though. Considering the huge number of people killed, maybe heaven was having a membership drive.

        June 29, 2014 at 8:26 am |
        • awanderingscot

          isn't it true that you are only here trying to destroy someone's faith? isn't it also true that you are a hateful person who hates God and hates His children and that's the only reason you are here?

          June 29, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • igaftr

          no scot it isn't true.

          Is it true that you are only here to lose arguments because you argue out of ignorance, and when losing like to go on personal attacks with lots of immature name calling?

          June 29, 2014 at 11:17 am |
      • alonsoquixote

        awanderingscot, you wrote regarding WWII, " WWII was won by men of God, not hate-theistic supermen. it was won by men who believed they had God on their side and that Germany was led by evil godless men."

        You seem to have forgotten the role the "godless" Soviets played in defeating the Germans, though even Stalin allied himself with the dominant Christian church in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church, when he, like many political leaders, saw benefit to be gained by using religious beliefs to further his own goals – see "1943: Orthodox Patriarch Appointed" at soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?

        In regards to the Germans, the belt buckles worn by German soldiers during World War II had Gott mit uns on them. Though Hitler's actual religious views are debatable, he publicly proclaimed himself to be a Christian and capitalized on the antisemitism rampant among Protestant and Catholic Christians in Germany to enlist German Christians to carry out his pogrom against the Jews by justifying it with Christian rhetoric. For many Christians of that period, Jews were deicides, "Christ-killers".

        There were many prominent Christian leaders, such as Bishop Martin Sasse of the Thuringian Evangelical Church, Archbishop Konrad Gröber, etc., who helped incite the German populace against the Jews. I'd recommend Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen and Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany by Robert P. Ericksenwhich, which cover the role the leaders of Germany's Christian churches, both Catholic and Protestant, played in supporting the Nazis and their pogrom against the Jews, for information on why the Nazis were so successful in gaining the support of the German populace.

        The German populace during the time the Nazis held power was almost exclusively Christian. The historian Richard J Evans wrote that, by 1939, 95% of Germans still called themselves Protestant or Catholic, while 3.5% identified as "gottgläubig", i.e., someone who still believes in God, although without having any religious affiliation, and 1.5% atheist.

        Most German soldiers and most members of the 3 million Nazi Party members still paid the Church taxes and considered themselves to be Christian and many Nazi political and military leaders regarded themselves as "good Christians". Even the "Angel of Death", Josef Mengele, who conducted horrific medical experiments on prisoners, including children, regarded himself as a Christian. From Holocaust Politics by John K. Roth:

        Despite rebelling against his strict religious upbringing, Mengele identified himself as a Catholic.

        The Deutsche Christen (German Christians), led by the theologian Ludwig Müller, were a group of fanatically Nazi Protestants who helped the Nazis consolidate their power in Germany. They used a traditional Christian cross with a swastika in the middle and the group's German initials "D" and "C" as their symbol. They told German Christians that the Jews had killed Christ encouraging existing anti-Semitic sentiment among Christians in Germany.

        When Germany seized the Sudetenland, i.e., the the northern, southwest, and western areas of Czechoslovakia which were inhabited mostly by German speakers, in 1938, the churches offered support for Hitler. From Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany by Robert P. Ericksen:

        Cardinal Bertram, speaking for his fellow German Catholics, sent Hitler a telegram in response to his seizure of the Sudetenland: "The great deed of safeguarding international peace moves the German epi_scopate, acting in the name of Catholics of all the German dioceses, respectfully to tender their congratulations and thanks and to order a festive peal of bells on Sunday.

        When Germany invaded Poland,which inaugurated World War II, the churches did not denounce the invasion. Instead, Bishop Marahrens, state bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Hanover, gave thanks to God that the Polish conflict was over, and "that He has granted our armies a quick victory." The Ministry for Church Affairs suggested Church bells across Germany ring for a week in celebration, and pastors and priests flocked to volunteer as chaplains for the country's armed forces. The German Protestant Church offered a public statement of commendation and support. From Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany by Robert P. Ericksen:

        Since yesterday our German people have been called on to fight for the land of their fathers in order that German blood may be reunified with German blood. The German Evangelical Church stands in true fellowship with the fate of the German people. The Church has added to the weapons of steel her own invincible weapons from the Word of God: the assurance of faith that our people and each individual is in God's hand, and the power of prayer which strengthens us in days of good and evil. So we unite in this hour with our people in intercession for our Führer and Reich, for all the armed forces, and for all who do their duty for the fatherland.

        German Catholic bishops likewise exhorted Germans to support their leadership and appealed "to the faithful to join in ardent prayer that God's providence may lead this war to blessed success for Fatherland and people."

        Why do so many believe that the Germans were "godless"? The historian Richard Steigmann-Gall wrote:

        What we suppose Nazism must surely have been about usually tells us as much about contemporary societies as about the past purportedly under review. The insistence that Nazism was an anti-Christian movement has been one of the most enduring truisms of the past fifty years.... Exploring the possibility that many Nazis regarded themselves as Christian would have decisively undermined the myths of the Cold War and the regeneration of the German nation ... Nearly all Western societies retain a sense of Christian identi_ty to this day.... That Nazism as the world-historical metaphor for human evil and wickedness should in some way have been related to Christianity can therefore be regarded by many only as unthinkable."

        June 29, 2014 at 9:41 am |
      • alonsoquixote

        awanderscot, in reply to Reality you wrote "read your history books. And when this does happen, you'd better hope there are still some real men of God around to protect your sorry ass." I assume you are using "real men of God" to refer to Christians. When I open my history books and look at the wars that have occurred in the West since Christianity came to be a dominant religion thanks to the Roman emperor Constantine I embracing it to unify the Roman empire under a common religion in the 4th century, I see a long list of wars of Christians against Christians and, often, people on each side declaring that God is on their side. Some examples, though by no means a comprehensive list:

        1. Sack of Rome in 410 CE – most people assume that those who sacked Rome at various times were Pagans, which is not true. Instead, the trinitarian Roman Christians were defeated by Arian Christians. Alaric I, the King of the Visigoths from 395 to 410 CE, who sacked Rome in 410 CE, was an Arian Christian. Arian Christians believed that the Son of God was a subordinate enti_ty to God the Father.

        2. Sack of Rome in 455 CE – this was the second of three sacks of Rome in the 1st millennium. This time Vandals under Genseric (389 – 477 CE) sacked Rome. Genseric was also an Arian Christian.

        3. Sack of Rome in 546 CE – this was carried out by the Gothic king Totila (died 553 CE), also an Arian Christian

        4. Norman conquest of England (1066 – 1088 CE)

        5. Norman invasion of Ireland (1169 – 1175 CE) – in 1155 CE, Pope Adrian IV issued a papal bull that gave Henry II permission to invade Ireland as a means of strengthening the Papacy's control over the Irish Church.

        6. Fourth Crusade (1202 – 1204 CE) – Western European Crusaders invade Constantinople pitting the Roman Catholic Church against the Eastern Orthodox Church.

        6. Albigensian Crusade (1209 – 1229 CE). Though most people are probably familiar with the Crusades against Muslims in the Holy Land, far fewer are aware of the crusades in northern Europe. Most of those, such as the Wendish Crusade, which was part of the Northern Crusades from 1147 to 1242 CE, were Christians going off to kill Pagans. But there was also the Albigensian Crusade in which the Roman Catholic Church attempted to wipe out Catharism, a dualist Christian movement.

        7. Hundred Years' War (1337 – 1453) – a war between various Christian kingdoms in Europe

        8. Hunger War (1414 CE) – a conflict between the allied Kingdom of Poland, and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, against the Teutonic Knights, aka Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, a Catholic order owing allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

        9. Italian War of 1499–1504

        10. War of the League of Cambrai (1508 – 1516 CE)

        11. Russo-Swedish War (1554 – 57 CE)

        12. French Wars of Religion (1562 – 1598) – French Catholics fight the Huguenots, French Protestants

        13. Eighty Years' War – (1568 – 1648)

        14. Anglo-Spanish War (1654 – 15660 CE)

        15. Great Northern War (1700 – 1721 CE)

        16. American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783 CE)

        17. Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815 CE)

        18. Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921 CE)

        19. World War I (1939 – 1945 CE)

        20. World War II (1939 – 1945)

        If Reality needs to worry about future attacks from some other country or countries, those attacks are likely to be carried out by others confident that God is on their side. Even when "men of God" claim they worship the same god as their enemies, it hasn't stopped them killing those others, as they are often confident God favors them and not those others.

        Religious differences certainly weren't a cause of all of the above wars, though that was a factor for some. Unfortunately regarding themselves as pious "men of God", doesn't preclude men from killing one another, either, though.

        June 29, 2014 at 11:59 am |
  20. flightfromfrostmtn

    Islam in western countries likes to paint itself as peaceful but europe has really struggled to get islamic immigrants to integrate into their respective societies – Muslims instead insist their host countries cater to their beliefs, their laws and customs. Its been a tougher go here in the US for islam thanks to the deeper Christian stance and violent encounters with extremists.

    The ME is a straight up mess, Muslims blame everyone but themselves for their problems, We took down a psychopathic strongman (and yes he DID have a very credible WMD capability- SCUD+chemical weaps= WMD) and in doing so made them fight each other, We helped this faction, We didnt help this faction, so on and so forth.

    as far as Hollywood goes...these clowns are as bad as the media as far as misinformation/disinformation goes...take them with a grain of salt. Nobody put a gun to this guy's head and made him take those roles.

    June 28, 2014 at 6:43 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.