Dean Obeidallah, an attorney-turned-comedian, wanted to combat Islamophobia with jokes. He and a group of Muslim-American comedians traveled to rural and big cities in the Deep South to show people “we are just like you.” Their experiences were captured in the documentary The Muslims Are Coming! (RELATED: Read the story.)
Dean Obeidallah told students that some politicians create a sense fear of Islam for political gain.
In nearly every show in the South, 95 percent of the audience were white Christians. “The whole goal is to use my skill-set as an unofficial activist to try to change people’s minds. I think comedy is a great way of doing it.”
Obeidallah said that Muslims must find allies in this country. You have to fight discrimination whether it's race, gender, sexual orientation. “It doesn’t mean you have to be for gay marriage—that’s your choice. It just means they should not be demonized because they’re gay, just like we should not be demonized because of my faith,” he added.
There are nearly 3 million Muslims in the U.S. The documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, plays on words of the fear of the growing population in the country.
America is a progressive country. Obeidallah said there was a point where women could not vote and black people were enslaved. “Now we have a black president. That’s how much we’ve evolved.”
To mainstream Americans, Obeidallah told the crowd, being Muslims is not synonymous with being American.
Extremist Muslims are more about pushing a political agenda than advancing religion, he told the crowd.