The Daily Demarche
Monday, March 14, 2005
Allah Made Me Funny
Time for a vacation form my vacation- I need to blog a little. Seems family and friends can only listen to me ramble so much. Frequent readers know that Public Diplomacy and the war against radical Islam are frequent topics here. Imagine my surprise on returning to the U.S. for a brief visit and finding that these are also common topics for American Muslims.

America's Muslims, it seems, are engaging in a little public diplomacy of their own- from imams to rock tours to comedians, they are reaching out to America. "Allah Made Me Funny" bills itself as "The Official Muslim Comedy Tour" featuring comics nicknamed the "Ayatollah of Comedy" and "Bin Laughin".

Meanwhile, "Junoon" who bills themselves as (ahem) Pakistan's Biggest Rock Band (or the Pakistani Pioneers of Rock, if you prefer), according to their website is:

"back with another documentary entitled 'It's my country too'. Directed by the award winning Ruhi Haq from the BBC, Salman talks to various Arab Muslims based out of Dearborn Michigan, about how their lives were affected by 9/11 and the discrimination they faced. Dearborn has one of the largest Arab-Muslim concentrations in the US"

I have not seen the comedy show or heard the band, and so have no idea if they are any good. That is really immaterial here, though. The news is not whether these shows are good, but that they even exist. The BBC has picked up on the theme running a piece by the producer of the above mentioned documentary. A sample:

"The more mainstream America hears the moderate voices, the less suspicious they'll be," he says.

"We as American Muslims must stand up, be proud of who we are, and be people who say unequivocally and enthusiastically, that we're American Muslim."

However, he is also critical of his own community. He says: "Our problem as a community is that we're very isolationist. We don't want to get out there and make bridges with people, connect with people."

Those quotes are from Mr. Bin Laughin, Azhar Usman, a former attorney now headlining the "Allah" tour. He is right on the money. If moderate Islam is to emerge into the light of day in America it will have to be of it's own volition.

I've been keeping my eyes and ears open here, soaking in as much as I can. I've been gone a while, but not much has changed. Not much usually does, until something like a September 11th makes it change. America's Muslim community existed on the fringes of society for many, many years before that terrible day. Will it be able to emerge now, and counter the forces of Islamofacism, or at least encourage the rest of the moderate Muslim world to help defeat the radicals within that threaten to destroy them all? I have no idea. It will bear watching, and perhaps we can even learn a thing or two about public diplomacy as applied to the Muslim world.
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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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