Posted by on December 02, 2013 in Blog
This Friday, December 6th, “The Muslims Are Coming!” to the Artisphere Theater in Rosslyn, Virginia. The film, directed by Arab American comedian Dean Obeidallah and Iranian American Negin Farsad, documents a traveling comedy tour as they perform free shows across America using the proven power of comedy to tackle Islamophobia and dispel misperceptions about Muslims.
Given the troubling trend of Islamophobia we have identified over the past few years in American political discourse and law enforcement, and in the attitudes of the general American public, this film comes at an important time.
The amount of rhetoric from American public officials that is openly hostile to American Muslims – and Islam as a whole – remains a concern. In 2010, we saw a contrived controversy sparked by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller erupt over plans to build an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. Simultaneously several state and local legislatures considered or passed proposals to ban the imaginary threat of sharia law; the proposals, when challenged in state and federal courts, have universally been found unconstitutional. In 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) convened hearings in Congress to focus on the threat of “radicalization” of Muslims, but no evidence was produced that Muslims in the United States are more likely to commit acts of terrorism than any other group – and indeed, they haven’t. Nevertheless, in 2010 our polling found that 55% of Americans – including a remarkable 85% of Republicans – had an unfavorable opinion of Muslims. Those numbers have dropped some – the 2012 poll found Americans’ overall opinion of Muslims evenly divided. But as we know you agree, the unfavorable numbers remain too high. Perhaps most troubling, in the last two years it’s been revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) conducted a large-scale spying operation with apparently no other goal than to infiltrate and spy on the city’s Muslim community.
There have been some congressional efforts to respond to this problem: the proposed End Racial Profiling Act, which bans discriminatory profiling in any federal or local law enforcement, includes language banning practices like the NYPD’s. And AAI has confronted and pushed back against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim activists, especially when they have targeted our communities. But this invidious discrimination is a serious problem that requires more attention.
“The Muslims Are Coming!” is both telling and funny, and we encourage you to invite friends and family to attend the screening in Virginia. In 2012, the Muslims are Coming Comedy Show was honored with a Special Recognition Award at the Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala.