For Ramadan: Five Movie Muslims
Ramadan is a time of reflection and prayer for the world's Muslim population. It is meant to teach them patience and self-restraint, and to bring them closer to Allah.
We at Hair Balls know little of patience, and have never been good at
self-restraint, but we're nothing if not equal-opportunity in our
irreverence. So in lieu of fasting and good deeds, here's a list of some
of the more memorable Muslim villains from the movies.
A Salaam 'Alaykum.
Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) -- True Lies (1994)
"The Sand Spider" was one of several cinematic portrayals of Muslim that
elicited protests in the 1990s. How times change. And though it's hard
to take the guy very seriously, what with that bad skullet that makes
him look like the lead singer for the Scorpions, listen to what he's
saying. Raining holy fire on America if they don't get out of the Middle
East is pretty much what al Qaeda's been threatening all along.
"Terrorist" (Michael Zand) -- To Live and Die in L.A.
William Friedkin is a true visionary. While Rambo was over in
Afghanistan befriending the people who'd be using our own weapons and
tactics against us 15 years later, Secret Service Agent Richard Change
was fighting Islamic terrorism right here in America. Unfortunately,
this clip stops just short of when Chance and his partner foil the
terrorist's plot to blow up Ronald Reagan, but you'll have to trust me
when I say it was pretty sweet.
Turkish Bey (Jose Ferrer) -- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
David Lean's epic film is full of positive Muslim characters...of the
Arab variety, that is. Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) and Prince Feisel (Alec
Guinness) being the two primary examples. The portrayal of the Turks
isn't quite as sympathetic, especially that of the Bey who may or may
not have raped Lawrence after he was captured in Deraa. The historical
record is unclear on what actually happened, but I think this clip makes
it clear what Lean believed.
9-11 Hijackers -- United 93 (2006)
Nothing takes the winds out of your comedy sails like talking about the
real thing. There are those who said it was "too soon" to make a movie
about the September 11 attacks, but the makers of United 93
managed to do it with no political posturing. The hijackers aren't
depicted as inhuman monsters, but as people (albeit fanatical ones) who
are also susceptible to doubt and fear. It's to director Paul
Greengrass' credit that he didn't go the other way.
The Sheik (Jamie Farr) -- The Cannonball Run (1981)
Before they were flying planes into our skyscrapers, the Saudis were
apparently little more than comic relief to Hollywood. This explains the
comical Sheik, who vows to win the Cannonball "for Islam" in spite of
his decadent lifestyle (and the fact that his mansion looks like a Motel
6). And keep an eye on Bianca Jagger, who guts it through the scene with
all the weariness of someone just waking up after a decades-long coke
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