US Muslims Fight Stereotypes With Humor

NEW YORK – Promoting a documentary that urges understanding and tolerance of Muslims, humorous ads appeared in New York subways on Monday, March 7, spreading the word about the film with light-hearted funny quotes.

“The Ugly Truth About Muslims: Muslims have great frittata recipes,” reads one of the ads created by comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah who are using humor to break down stereotypes promote their documentary “The Muslims Are Coming,” Reuters reported.

The ads appeared after the movie’s production company won a legal battle with the city’s transit authority.

In June 2015, New York-based Vaguely Qualified Productions LLC, the company behind the documentary, filed a lawsuit against the transit authority after it withdrew prior approval for the ads.

A federal judge had already allowed the transit authority to reject an ad from the American Freedom Defense Initiative after the agency adopted a policy against political advertising.

“Here we are 15 months later and a federal lawsuit later and finally these funny posters are going up that were tied to our film in which it shows Muslims being funny and in a different light,” said Obeidallah.

“That’s all it was about.”

The advertisements was allowed earlier after a federal court in Manhattan ruled in October that being Muslim was a religious, not a political, identity.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a policy prohibiting political speech in ads on public transportation.

The ad campaign is expected to help Muslims striving to combat negative perceptions about their faith.

Moreover, the refugee crisis has added to the increase in anti-Muslim sentiments.

“The point of the movie is just to show Muslims in a positive light, to build a bridge with mainstream Americans,” Farsad said in an interview.

“Muslim-Americans can be super-hilarious and that’s kind of just what we want to show people.”

According to Farsad and Obeidallah, ads costing about $20,000 will be posted in about 144 subway stations.

One ad at the City Hall station in lower Manhattan carried three statements with the caveat that only one was true of Muslims.

“In every country and every religion there are good people and bad people,” said Edgar Sanchez, 45, of Queens, adding he thought the ad was a positive attempt to combat stereotypes.

The Muslims Are Coming! is a 2013 American comedy documentary film co-directed and co-starring Farsad and Obeidallah.

It follows a team of Muslim-American comedians as they tour the American South and Southwest performing free standup shows, and engaging in community activities, with an aim to “reach out to Middle America” and counter Islamophobia.