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Does America Need 'Sitcom Diplomacy' or Muslim Reality TV?


As reported here late last year, CBS News' Katie Couric's year-end wrap webcast included a discussion of some of the cultural problems in our country, specifically how many Americans feel about Muslims.  The host speculated that most, if not all of the misconceptions might be cleared up if we only had a funny TV show to better explain this misunderstood religion. She suggested a "Muslim Cosby Show."

This message was not lost on the Hollywood community as last Sunday (1/30/11), the L.A. Times printed an Op-Ed piece from author and television writer, Firoozeh Dumas. In the article, Dumas recounted her family's move from Iran to America and how much she learned about American people though the lessons taught weekly on tv shows like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. Ms. Dumas agrees with Ms. Couric and is pushing for what she calls "sitcom diplomacy."

A Muslim Cosby Show would certainly be seen as an alternative to some of the current Muslim-centric programming available around the world.  It would be quite different than the program, "Shariah & LIfe" that airs on Al Jazeera Network, hosted by Yusef al-Qaradwi and is viewed by an estimated 40 million people each week (At it's ratings peak, Cosby averaged just over 30 million households weekly).   al-Qaradawi is the guy who declared February 3rd of 2006 as an "international day of rage"  in response to the cartoon image of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.  Yes, that was over five years ago, but he's also made some incendiary statements on Al Jazeera since then.

In early January of 2009, his sermon included;

"Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people… do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one."

A short few weeks later, on January 30 of 2009, al Qaradawi again delivered a rather un-Cosby statement to the Al Jazeera audience;

"Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."

With statements like those quoted here, plus others supporting genital mutilation of women, repeated calls for suicide bombers to attack American troops, and the constant drumbeat for the complete and total annihilation of Israel, it is surprising to this reporter that the call is for a frivolous TV comedy to be added to the airwaves and not a demand for the removal of violent, hateful, and incendiary rhetoric of folks like Mr. al Qaradawi.

Regarding these calls for "sitcom diplomacy" and to those wondering if the American people NEED to be force-fed pro-Muslim propaganda in the form of a television show, I wonder;

  • Is America (and American television programming) the problem here?
  • Would a series based on a Muslim-American family change the reality about radical Muslims and their hopes and dreams for the world?
  • Did "Hogan's Heroes" really change the way people felt about the Nazis?

For the record and also as previously reported here on The Blaze, there is a Muslim sitcom called "Little Mosque On The Prairie" currently airing in Canada and several countries around the world.

There are reportedly 1.5 billion Muslims on the planet, making up one quarter of the world's population.  That's a staggering number, and certainly a market that TV producers would love to tap. So, if television executives want to make and sell a program that highlights Muslims who live their religion and their lives accepting others as equals, then is their choice to do so and the free market will decide if there is a demand for such programming.

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