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How Muslim Comedians Fight Against Racism

Published: 22/12/2011 05:56:00 PM GMT
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Racism has been rampant in the United States since the tragic events of 9/11. As a way to counteract this increasing prejudice against Muslims there has been a wave of American Muslim comedians that have taken to the stage. By making fun of them, their culture, and the prejudices of the American public, Muslim comedians are overturning many negative attitudes about Muslims one laugh at a time. In a day when the right-wing pundits say outrageous statements and blatant lies on television, the best weapon that Muslims can defend themselves is not outrage or violence. Its humor and ridicule. After all, one cannot have a reasonable debate against opponents that are blatantly lying. It is better to expose their lies for what they are.

Muslim comedy works both ways. Just as Islam is vastly misunderstood in the West, particularly in the United States, so is Western culture demonized by many Muslims. How can it not be demonized when most Muslims in Islamic countries are exposed to the West through their movies and television, two mediums that traditionally glorify sex and violence? Muslim comedians bring a way for groups, Muslims and non-Muslims, to learn about each other in a way that is entertaining. They take that first step in making one group empathize with the other, a necessary thing for any kind of true discourse. After all, when Westerners see that Muslims laugh at many of the same things – or that they laugh at all, considering the famous lack of a sense of humor in many radical Muslims – there is identification with the other side. This is what art and entertainment is meant for at its highest level, bringing people together. Here it happens with the power of laughter.

Humor and entertainment have been ways for groups that once were marginalized in American society to join the mainstream and become accepted. There are countless examples of famous Jewish or Black entertainers and traditionally, the entertainment industry is usually the first that breaks away from old prejudices and embraces the new. Just like many of these Jewish and Black comedians in second half of the twentieth century, modern Muslim comedians are fighting an important battle. A battle against Islamophobia and prejudice. Their comedy routines expose and ridicule the lies of the right-wing pundits, interested in pandering to the fear and xenophobia of the American public. They poke fun at stereotypes and of the mistreatment of Muslims in American culture, while at the same time bringing to public attention that these are still a very real problem that Muslims must cope with every day. While it may seem like fun and games, radical Muslims would do well to learn from these comedians' example. The fight for the rights of Muslims is not being fought with violence. This only makes their hate for Islam stronger. The main battleground is being fought all over the United States in comedy clubs and in the entertainment industry. It goes to the core of what this world needs today; changing the basic ideas one culture has about the other.

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