There are a lot of positive things about living in Oklahoma, but one of the things about living anywhere in the South is the amount of racism that runs throughout the states. That makes Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah’s decision to take their comedy tour The Muslims are Coming through mostly those southern states a daring exercise. It also made the documentary that followed that tour very captivating.
Farsad and Obeidallah are both Americans, but are also Muslims, and their entire goal with their comedy tour was to show people that the racist and blind hatred many Americans have for a distinct group of people was misguided. As the head of a major Christian broadcast network told them, there are a large number of Extremist Muslims that want to kill Americans – but the number is highly dwarfed by those Muslims who live in peace and just want to worship how they believe.
The Muslim comedians on tour were all Americans – Farsad (Iranian-American), Obeidallah (Pakistani father/Irish Catholic mother), Aron Kader (Palestinian father/Mormon mother), Preacher Moss (African-American Muslim convert), Kareem Omary (half Syrian, half Peruvian) and Omar Elba (Egyptian immigrant). Some of the Muslims, such as Farsad, poke fun at their heritage while others are deeply religious and use other forms of humor.
The Muslims are Coming is split up to the stops on their tour in places such as Alabama, Tennessee and Utah, among others. These comedians set up and put on a free comedy show, so no one has an excuse not to come. They are not there to “convert” anyone to their religion, and as one person states, to try to force anyone to believe as they do is against their religion – something many right wingers refuse to understand.
The other half of The Muslims are Coming shows the special attempts they take during the movie to meet people outside of the comedy shows. They head to a gun show to invite people to their comedy show, and at one point they go to a shooting range to shoot guns, an event that leaves Farsad in tears, as she wonders what kind of person gets joy out of shooting things.
They have a “Bowling with a Muslim” event, which sees them bowling with a few people including a veteran of the war in the Middle East, a man who said he was not allowed to see how people in the Middle East really lived when he was stationed over there. That makes sense, because that would put a face to the “enemy.” However, what this movie shows, above all else, is that these Muslims are humans who just want to tell jokes, go bowling, eat pizza and get hugs.
Some of the better moments include a booth where people come up, and if they can answer a question right, they win a prize. They are read a quote from either the Old Testament, New Testament or Koran and asked which it came from. The fact that few people got the answer right was the exact point. All three scriptures are full of violence.
This is proven even more at the Christian broadcast network where the man in charge said the Koran is full of demands that violence be inflicted on non-believers and that those threats should be taken literally. When Obeidallah says his Irish-Catholic mother said that items in the Bible were parables not to be taken literally, the man said all the Bible is to be taken literally. When Obeidallah reads scripture in the Bible that demands non-believers be killed, the man explains that is a parable and should not be taken literally.
The Muslims are Coming works great in that it makes a person look at the world around them and realize that when you pass damnation on an entire group of people because of the sins of a small portion of those people, you are acting both blindly and without understanding. Not all Baptists should be hated because of the Westboro Baptist Church and not all Muslims should be hated because of 9/11.
The movie also has talking heads from more famous comedians, including David Cross, John Stewart, and Colin Quinn, and it was Stewart who pointed out that the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy was ridiculous because there had been a Mosque there for many years with no problems before. It is just that, when religious right minded people decide they have a platform, they yell the loudest.
The Muslims are Coming is a movie that proves that sometimes it is not yelling that makes a difference, but just a nice hug.