The Muslims Are Coming: Pamela Geller Discovers Comedy Jihad
by Sheila Musaji
In 2009, Dean Obeidallah wrote The Muslims Are Coming! in which he talked about an early Muslims Are Coming efforts:
... In an effort to speed up the Muslim take over of America—which on some level would probably help my comedy career because I’ll get even more bookings by Muslim groups—my fellow Arab-American comedians Aron Kader and Maysoon Zayid went out to the streets of NYC with me to see if we could recruit Americans to Islam. (We did this a little while back when we first heard this allegation.) We offered prizes to people to convert to Islam, such as a toaster, a blender and even Sudoku. Here is a clip of our efforts to convert Americans! ...
By 2011, this initial skit had become the Muslims Are Coming comedy tour which Dean Obeidallah wrote about in the article America, how can Muslim-Americans reach non-Muslims?. You can see Dean Obeidallah’s Tedx talk about the comedy tour here
And during the comedy tour, Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad began working on making a documentary film based on the comedy tour. In 2011, Obeidallah requested an interview with Robert Spencer to be included in this The Muslims Are Coming documentary film, and Spencer turned this into a “prove to me you’re not a radical Muslim test”. I laid out the whole saga in the article The Muslim comedian and the Islamophobe: A funny thing happened on the way to the interview. That article includes Spencer’s 1,000 word plus questionnaire requiring an answer before he would consider being interviewed by Obeidallah, and my answers to those stupid questions. The bottom line is that Spencer didn’t agree to the interview.
Obeidallah and Farsad created a Facebook page, and ran a Kickstarter donation compaign to get the funds to complete the film project.
Now, in 2013, the film is completed, and is set to be released in theaters on September 12th. This documentary film is co-directed by Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah. You can see the trailer here.
Patrick Gavin published an article about this film titled Film tackles Islamophobia with humor. He noted that “The film tracks a group of Muslim-American stand-ups as they performed in the Muslims are Coming Comedy Tour across the country and tackle people’s stereotypes. The film also features cameos by Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black and Aasif Mandvi.”
Pamela Geller doesn’t find this funny. She has just written Cultural Jihad: Hollywood Documentary to Mock ‘Islamophobes’. Here are just a few of her objections to this Muslim comedy: ”... We aren’t even allowed to discuss Islam and the doctrine of jihad in the mainstream media, but “Islamophobia” is a matter for comedy? ... So the new cultural jihad is to make it cool and happening and now to make fun of the people who do talk about it at risk of their reputations and livelihoods and personal safety. ... The Hollywood hordes who have signed on for this film have no intellectual depth, but fighting against “Islamophobia” is perceived to be politically correct and chi chi, and that’s all they need. ... Meanwhile, anti-jihad activists can’t get movies made. ...”
Yes, Geller is right this is a jihad, in the sense that mainstream, traditional Muslims understand jihad — not in the sense that Islamophobes and the Muslim lunatic fringe distort the term. It is a comedy jihad. A jihad for truth, justice, and the American way.
I for one am going to buy a ticket and have a good laugh at the idiocy of Islamophobes like Geller and Spencer and the rest of the Islamophobia echo chamber.
Here is the NPR Interview with the cast of The Muslims Are Coming.
Just heard from Dean Obeidallah that On Sept 24 The Muslims Are Coming will be released via online platforms (like iTunes) in 25 countries including the US and these other great places: Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Brunei, Darussalam, Fiji, Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Check their Facebook page for updates
The Islamophobia echo chamber is jumping in to bash The Muslims Are Coming. Dean Obeidallah has written Why the Right Is Bashing My Muslim Comedy Movie
Hide your children. Lock your doors. Discard your alcohol and dispose of your pork “The Muslims Are Coming!” And here’s the worst part: these dastardly Muslims have camouflaged themselves as comedians in effort to make you like them. But don’t be fooled: They are trying to impose Sharia law, one joke at a time!
That, in a nutshell, is the response of three right-wing media outlets to the new comedy documentary The Muslims Are Coming!, which has not even been released yet. (The film will be released September 24 via iTunes/Amazon and cable VOD and in theaters in select cities.)
The film—I’m the co-director along with Negin Farsad and one of the comedians—has struck fear in the hearts of some on the right. Why?
The people who literally make their living demonizing Muslims by selling books and giving lectures, or politicians who use Muslims as a wedge issue, want you to be angry. They don’t care if it’s angry with Muslims or angry with them. They are like the pink slime in Ghostbusters 2 that needs hate to thrive.
What they don’t want is you laughing at them. That undermines their credibility. And believe me, they are keenly aware of this, which is why we saw Breitbart.com, The Washington Times and Front Page.com launch a preemptive strike against the film with articles attacking it.
But this film is not just about mocking the bigots. (Although I’m happy to hear people laugh at them when they watch the film.) The film’s focus is following a journey of American-Muslim comedians as they perform free comedy shows across the Deep South and West. Our goal was to meet as many of our fellow Americans as possible of all faiths (or no faith) and answer their questions about Muslims and build connections with them.
We didn’t make a Borat type of movie mocking the people we met in our travels. Instead, we set up an “Ask a Muslim” booth on the streets of Georgia. We bowled with people in Alabama, chatted with others in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and literally hugged people in the streets of Salt Lake City.
So how did the right wing peeps respond? Well, Breitbart.com labeled the film a “Cultural Jihad.” In actuality, I’m kinda excited about this label—most comedians have credits like The Tonight Show or Letterman. I, however, now have the more unique credit of, “Comedy jihadist.”
Front Page’s article purports to be a film review written by an alleged screenwriter. However, the author based the review on watching the three-minute trailer. This guy takes lazy to a new level.
And then there’s The Washington Times. They whine that the movie is just a parade of liberals mocking conservatives. To be honest, they are correct. We do have some great progressive voices in the film including The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Russell Simmons, Rep. Keith Ellison, and comedians like Lewis Black, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, etc.
But here’s the thing The Washington Times didn’t include in their article, because they didn’t contact us for a comment: We invited numerous conservatives to be in the film. To be specific, we asked Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Judge Napolitano, and Pat Robertson through their representatives. We even invited some of the most notorious Muslim haters. (I won’t list their names because they don’t merit the attention.)
One guess how they all responded? They, of course, said no. Why? You have to ask them but it’s clear that many on the right don’t want to be challenged when selling their rancid bill of goods to the public about Muslims.
But here’s the truth that some on the right will hate to hear: We will prevail. And when I say “we,” I don’t mean Muslims. I mean American values. How can I say that? Our nation’s history makes it clear how this will end for the Muslim bashers.
Past generations have seen Anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism as part of the mainstream discourse and used by politicians to divide and scare people. We have also seen some on the right use race and homophobia as part of their political agenda.
But guess what? Over time these efforts have all failed as the voices of tolerance in our nation have always, in time, drowned out the voices of hate and bigotry. That doesn’t mean that racism and bigotry have been eliminated in our country. But it does mean that those voices have increasingly been marginalized to the fringes of American society.
I am fully confident this is the same fate that awaits the Muslim haters. But that wont happen on it’s own. No, it will take the efforts of a coalition of good people to stand up together. And thankfully we have seen that very thing happening over the past few years. In fact, our film is an example of this, as it features people of different faiths and backgrounds coming together to stand up against hate and for American values.
In time, the bigots who spew hate versus Muslims will be relegated to hanging out with the racists, homophobes, Anti-Semites and other despicable people. However, until that day, I hope you will join me in laughing at them. Because that is truly their greatest fear.
RESOURCES FOR DEALING WITH ISLAMOPHOBIA SUMMARY
The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade. They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films. They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally. They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”
The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences. The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.
The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence”, or that nothing that they say could have had anything to do with any act of violence, are nonsense. The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist, or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense.
These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, etc.). Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist. They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad. The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.
Here are just a few ridiculous claims about nonsensical Muslim plots:
An Eid Celebration for Muslim Special Needs Kids was described as a “stealth jihad”. A children’s page in a newspaper focusing on Eid was described as a toxic propaganda plot. Joel Hinrichs (a Christian) had a beard and had walked through the parking lot of a campus mosque thus proving that his crime was an example of sudden jihad syndrome. Leon Alphans Traille, Jr., the Arlington, Virginia Mall Bomber was accused of possible “sudden jihad syndrome” just because he had a beard, obviously, a case of beard jihad. Tyler Brehm who carried out the Hollywood shooting jihad was accused of “sudden jihad syndrome” because he shouted something that one witness from the Philippines said he might have shouted “Allahu Akbar”. This report was not backed up by any other witnesses. The awful April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech by a Korean student was also called Islamic jihad because Cho’s father had once worked in Saudi Arabia (before he was married and before Cho was born). A Muslim doctor had a heart attack and died at the wheel of his car which then crashed into a shopping mall and this was described as “vehicular jihad”. A Muslim cab driver objected to what he considered pornographic ads on the roof of his cab, and that became a stealth-jihad plot to impose Sharia on America. Any Muslim who has sued an employer for violation of their rights under the EEOC is engaged in employment jihad, or litigation jihad. Muslim environmentalists are said to be actually engaged in “civilizational jihad”. A cartoon series “The 99” aimed at young Muslims was described as “cultural jihad”. The victims of the terrorist attack of 9/11 included Muslims, they were accused of dying as martyrs in an act of jihad. Muslims hoped to open a Muslim hospital in the U.S. and that was called hospital jihad.
The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking” Muslim jihad plots. They have uncovered:
bumper sticker jihad — Thanksgiving turkey jihad — paisley scarf jihad — marriage to important men jihad — spit jihad — fashion jihad — spelling bee jihad — rape jihad — defacing dollar bills jihad — population jihad — creeping Sharia jihad — mosque building jihad — terror baby jihad — “creeping Sharia” jihad — pedophilia jihad — bus driver prayer jihad — forehead bruise jihad — postage stamp jihad — soup jihad — banning alcohol jihad — fake hate crimes jihad — piggy bank jihad — tv reality series jihad — handshake jihad — prom jihad — interfaith jihad — Arabic language jihad — public school jihad — religious accommodation jihad — Crescent moon jihad — Christmas tree tax jihad — oath of office jihad — immigration jihad — community fundraiser jihad— public school/madrassa jihad — post office jihad — food jihad — pyramid jihad — crucifixion jihad in Egypt — fireworks jihad — computer donation jihad — civic participation jihad — Olympic “judo” jihad— stealth name jihad— pre-violent jihad — Love jihad — fashion jihad 2 — #MyJihad ad jihad — talk show host jihad — art museum jihad — Halloween jihad — DNC Muslim Prayer Jihad — cat crucifixion jihad in Ghana — Scottish Muslim women’s stealth jihad — anti-democracy jihad — un-neighborly Musims in Paris jihad — jihad on Christopher Columbus — Iranian smallpox jihad — Muslim Christmas grinch jihad — #MyJihad twitter jihad — Muslim takeover of National Parks jihad
Nothing is too trivial to escape the eagle eyes of these “defenders of Western civilization” against devious Muslim stealth jihad plots. Christina Abraham (a Muslim) has a name that is not recognizably Muslim enough and so we have stealth name jihad. And, if a Muslim somewhere is not doing anything at all suspicious, then they are engaged in pre-violent jihad.
Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam. Islamophobes consistently push demonstrably false memes such as: - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized, - There have been 270 million victims of “jihad” - There have been 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11 - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded. Muslim and Arab organizations and individuals are connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label, or accused of not condemning Hamas, telling American Muslims not to talk to the FBI, of being “Jew haters”, etc.
Islamophobes do not understand freedom of speech or that freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech and they are quick to call for censorship and repression of speech they don’t like.
There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic. There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”. There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism. — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack: The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State. — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security. — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry. There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for many more reasons that these people cannot be trusted.
Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM), published since 1989. Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism, and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia. Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan. Biography You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji ( https://twitter.com/SheilaMusaji )