It was essentially “Real Time” host Bill Maher and author Sam Harris versus actor Ben Affleck and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on Friday night as the panel aggressively debated radical Islam and just how big of a problem it is around the world.
And things got tense in a hurry.
Affleck was noticeably uncomfortable and frustrated throughout the discussion, calling claims that there are widespread problems within the Islamic religion “racist” and “gross.” Maher said liberals should stick up for liberal principles that many in the Muslim faith do not value, such as freedom of speech and equality for women.
When former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele argued there aren’t enough stories on courageous Muslims who stand up against radical Islam, Maher said that’s because “they’re afraid to speak out.”
“It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia,” he said. “That will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, paint the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”
Later in the segment, Affleck said the United States has “killed more Muslims” than radical Islamists have killed Americans while asking Maher to lay out his solution.
“I can show you a Pew Poll of Egyptians, they are not outliers in the Muslim world that say like 90 percent of them believe that death is the appropriate response to leaving the religion,” Maher eventually responded. “If 90 percent of Brazilians thought death was the appropriate response to leaving Catholicism, you would think it was a bigger deal.”
Kristof alleged that the things Maher and Harris were saying have the “tinge of the way white racists talk about African-Americans.”
Watch part of the debate via HBO below (Warning: Strong language):