Will an American Audience Embrace Muslim Heroes?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In a recent piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer Naif Al-Mutawa, a clinical psychologist and father of five, wrote about the absence of positive Muslim characters in American entertainment. "Of all the diverse fictional characters who have inspired us," he writes, "Muslim protagonists remain very rare in American entertainment." Faced with a dearth of Muslim heroes in American media, Naif Al-Mutawa decided to create "The 99" to provide his sons with role models. It's a comic book series starring 99 superheroes, who each represent one of the 99 attributes of Allah, and use their powers to battle evil. After two years of looking for an American distributor, Mutawa has been unable to get his program broadcast in the United States.

Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of "The 99" and the subject of a new PBS Frontline documentary called "Wham! Bam! Islam!," discusses why there need to be more positive portrayals of Muslims in entertainment.


Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa

Produced by:

Kateri Jochum and Mythili Rao

Comments [2]

Angel from Miami, FL

Looking for a religious superhero is the wrong way to go about it. Wolverine is Canadian, the Black Widow is Russian, and Sunspot is Brazilian. Anyone can make any superhero from Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, or Turkey. As long as he/she has cool abilities and entertaining storylines I don't think anyone would hold their nationality against them. How would one define a Muslim superhero? Is Batman a Catholic or Protestant? Maybe Superman is a Unitarian, whatever that is.

PS: 99 seems like a really big team. How do they coordinate so many people?

Oct. 19 2011 11:09 AM

Mainstream superhero comics are all adolescent male power fantasies anyway, so Islam and its attitude toward women should be a natural fit.

Oct. 19 2011 09:57 AM

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