Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An Unusual Muslim Response to Donald Trump's Comments

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An Unusual Muslim Response to Donald Trump's Comments

Article excerpt

The New York comedian Negin Farsad has been trying for years to battle anti-Muslim sentiments in a quintessentially American way: spoof hate with satire.

Back in January, after Donald Trump first suggested a "complete shutdown" of all Muslims coming into the United States, Ms. Farsad went to Washington Square in Manhattan to film an ironic commentary. She asked people if they were Muslim or not, and if someone said, no, she'd say: "Prove it!" and ask them to eat from a plate of bacon (which is forbidden in Islam).

Just this week, the posters for the satiric documentary by her and fellow comedian Dean Obeidallah - "The Muslims are Coming!" - went up in New York subways. In its tongue-and cheek "Facts About Muslims," one poster claims: "Muslims invented Justin Timberlake."

The obvious point is to introduce Muslims and Islam as a normal a part of the American mosaic. And that sense of humor could come in useful again after Mr. Trump told CNN Wednesday: "I think Islam hates us."

"It's funny, I've been dealing with the Trump stuff a lot," Ms. Farsad says.

The fact is, for many, a poster claiming "The Muslims are Coming!" - even sarcastically - cuts a little too close to home. New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority bans political ads, and it took a year of legal action to establish that the ads were not political and could be posted.

Still, just the fact that Farsad needs to introduce the everyday lives of Muslims in America with humor - or wax sarcastic about ideas others find dangerous - speaks to negative views about the Muslim community in the US. A 2014 Pew survey that gauged Americans' "temperature" toward different religious groups found Muslims were viewed more coldly than any group except atheists.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., last year, a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric has been mirrored in an increase in attacks and discrimination, according to different studies.

In February, President Obama made his first visit to a US mosque, decrying the "inexcusable political rhetoric" during the presidential campaign and assuring Muslims that "You fit in here."

On Wednesday, Trump suggested the opposite. …

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