(RNS) Muslim stand-up comedy is nothing new. But what makes “The Muslims Are Coming” different is that it portrays what happens when a troupe of comedians performs before red state Americans in such places as Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arizona, Utah and Idaho.

A new documentary, “The Muslims are Coming” will debut in seven American cities this month. The movie tells the story of a group of comedians who take their show to the Bible Belt and Red State America engaging mainly non-Muslim audiences. Photo courtesy "The Muslims are Coming" website

A new documentary, “The Muslims are Coming” will debut in seven American cities this month. The movie tells the story of a group of comedians who take their show to the Bible Belt and Red State America engaging mainly non-Muslim audiences. Photo courtesy “The Muslims are Coming” website


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The documentary by Negin Farsad, an Iranian-American, and Dean Obeidallah, of Palestinian-Italian roots, opens in Chicago today (Sept. 12.)

It follows the comedians as they promote their first gig at a Columbus, Ga., gun show. They organize a “Come Bowl With a Muslim Night,” in Lawrenceville, Ga. The comedians stump an ordained minister at a “Name That Religion” table in downtown Birmingham. They haggle over scriptural literalism with an official from the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss.

“We wanted to create an environment where people felt comfortable,” said Dean Obeidallah, Farsad’s comedian colleague. “We didn’t want people to think they were walking into an argument.”

The results are mostly funny, sometimes poignant and often telling.

Fed up with what they perceived to be a growing Islamophobia in America, Farsad and Obeidallah started the project in 2011.

“It was alarming to me that being a Muslim became an accusation,” Farsad said.

Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo and Lewis Black, as well as public figures such as MSNBC anchorwoman Rachel Maddow and Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, appear in the documentary.

A scene from "The Muslims are Coming", a movie that tells the story of a group of comedians who take their show to the Bible Belt and Red State America engaging mostly non-Muslim audiences.  Photo courtesy "The Muslims are Coming" website

A scene from “The Muslims are Coming”, a movie that tells the story of a group of comedians who take their show to the Bible Belt and Red State America engaging mostly non-Muslim audiences. Photo courtesy “The Muslims are Coming” website


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“The Muslims Are Coming” is also useful as a catalog of Islamophobic remarks by public figures, including Glenn Beck, Herman Cain, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Robertson, Donald Trump and others.

What the filmmakers find, however, is that while media and political personalities often demonize Muslims, most Americans are tolerant, at least once they meet a Muslim. In the film’s final scene, Farsad and Obeidallah  hold up a “Hug a Muslim” sign in Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

After one heckler shouts at the American-born comics to “go back” to their own country, several other people approach them with open arms, and soon a line of people ready to hug them is formed.

“They hugged us, like they held us, like a child,” said Obeidallah in the film. “It was great, you felt it right through you.”

The film will also screen in Los Angeles; Seattle; New York; Piscataway, N.J.; Boston; Denver; and Santa Ana, Calif. On Sept. 24 it will be available on iTunes and cable on demand.

4 Comments

  1. Read Erwin Lutzer’s new book, “The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent” (Harvest House) and tell me I don’t have anything to be concerned about.

  2. Ron, I am not a Muslim or a Christian. It seems to me though the logical place to learn about Islam is from an imam and by reading the Quran, just as the logical place to understand Christianity would be a Bible and a pastor. You may disagree with the imam, but you should at least learn first-hand what his religion teaches. You would probably consider an orthodox rabbi’s explanation of Christ incomplete, no matter how scholarly; likewise with a Christian scholar on Islam. I haven’t read Erwin Lutzer’s new book but if I had concerns, I’d raise specific questions with the nearest imam and consider a different perspective.

  3. “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” Omar Ahmad (http://anti-cair-net.org/) This says it all, and it is the pervasive sentiment. As Jesus says, “by your fruits you shall know them.” We surely should them by now, but PC operates to the zenith. Our leaders are either naïve or willfully blind, and that includes clergy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.