Last month, we brought you the story of a Muslim comic book hero who will save the world using his silver wheelchair. That may not have been too controversial. However, the latest attempt to animate Islamic crime-fighters is sparking enough controversy to make up for the former's relative obscurity.
"Hide your face and grab the kids. Coming soon to a TV in your child's bedroom is a posse of righteous, Sharia-com pliant Muslim superheroes -- including one who fights crime hidden head-to-toe by a burqa." That's how New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser introduces "The 99," a new animated show featuring Islamic superheros set to debut in January on The Hub, formerly Discovery Kids.
In April, President Obama praised the character's creator Naif al-Mustawa, saying that his "superheroes embody the teachings of the tolerance of Islam":
So what has Peyser upset if the characters are so "tolerant?" It's the comic's strict adherence to Sharia law, and that fact that "a secular nation" could "endorse a children's show aimed at pushing one religion," that has her sounding the alarm of "indoctrination."
"These Islamic butt-kickers are ready to bring truth, justice and indoctrination to impressionable Western minds," she says, citing the aforementioned burqa requirement ("hair-hiding head scarves are mandatory for five characters, not including burqa babe Batina the Hidden") and also the cartoon's refusal to ever show a man and woman together alone.
As more evidence, Peyser points out the cartoon has met the approval of a "Sharia board -- which polices Muslim law -- affiliated with an Islamic bank from which the show received financing." And while she fails to mention the board or the bank, she does quote a Times of London columnist who wrote last year that the show's mission was "to instill old-fashioned Islamic values in Christian, Jewish and atheist children."
But not everyone is up in arms. Gawker seems to side with the president, and suggests Peyser is overreacting to the not-yet-aired show. "Andrea Peyser has uncovered the latest plot by radical Islamic fascists to brainwash good Christian children into bomb vest-wearing terror robots: a Saturday morning cartoon. With Muslims in it! Isn't that illegal, here in the USA?"
In August, CNN.com featured a video of Naif Al-Mutawa, a psychologist, explaining the idea behind his comic:
He explains in a subsequent article that his comic is a reaction against a sermon he heard from an imam "railing against the foreign enemies of Islam and the sinners within."
"It is finally time that all of us became more accountable for that which our children will be hearing," he writes, "tiny differences setting us apart rather than celebrating those positive things that bind all good people together."
So what do you think? A show with heroes who happen to be Muslim, and have to adhere to its laws, celebrating similarities instead of differences. Or, an attempt to make Islam appealing to "impressionable Western minds?"