Robot 6

Andy Khouri defends The 99 (sort of)

At Comics Alliance, Andy Khouri has penned a vigorous defense of the comic series, The 99 which sets out to provide positive role models for Islamic youth but is raising objections from commentators who claim it is really part of a sinister plot to brainwash our children and impose Sharia, Islamic law, across the country. Khouri starts by pointing out that this entire argument is nonsense.

In reality, Sharia is not a by-the-books law but more of a set of social and political beliefs practiced by Muslims around the world, who differ on the details depending on where you go and who you talk to. What’s generally true across the board is that Sharia is about being culturally conservative, behaving very modestly with respect to sex and money, and practicing a high level of courtesy and reverence for one’s neighbors.

But even by this most unspecific definition of Sharia, “The 99’s” connection to Islamic law seems tenuous at best. The reality is that Superman himself operates in a way that would be very agreeable by most mainstream interpretations of Sharia, and it is with pronounced irony that conservative Americans, particularly those in favor of living life like we’re all Boy Scouts, react so hatefully towards Muslims, who are truly their allies in this regard

Khouri, who grew up in Abu Dhabi, also points out that indoctrination isn’t as easy as all that. It’s an excellent, thoughtful piece and well worth a read, even though he ends by pointing out that while the cartoon may be harmless, it also isn’t very good.



Well, I’m glad SOMEONE is finally writing a rational response to the hysteria over this comic instead of just linking to the hateful article that started this thing in the first place.

Hysteria aside, I do wonder how receptive people if there were a, say, Morman based superhero cartoon on a high profile channel like the hub? People might not be as outraged but it definitely would be ridiculed. And it wouldn’t be so vigorously defended by nonbelievers. (the 99 is no skin off my nose btw)

I enjoy how he takes to defending something against the stereotype people may have for it, yet uses an even worse one within his piece, that conservative Americans hate Muslims.

Phil: Strawman argument. No one is upset about it being ridiculed, but about the fear-mongering involved in the whole thing.

Alemander: Not allowing the community center to be placed a few blocks from Ground Zero has become a plank in the party platforms of both the Republican and Tea Parties. It’s the conservative talk shows that are spouting the hate and fear-mongering with a large, mostly agreeable audience. And I don’t recall seeing anywhere in the article that Khouri tried to paint ALL conservatives as hating muslims.

Actually you missed my point.
In saying it’s a strawman argument you assume I’m arguing against it which I’m not. I could care less what’s on the shelves or what’s on tv. I’m also not saying the show is just being ridiculed. I’m saying that at the very least a Morman superhero show would be ridiculed. My only real point is that those who defend the 99, and what it’s based on, wouldn’t necessarily afford the same tolerance for a show based on a Morman, catholic, or Jewish property. (I’m not Morman btw or am I going to bat for anyone religon)

Considering that D.C. is planning a high-profile cross-over story between their most popular heroes and The 99, does anyone who knows anything about comics seriously think that The 99 are going to promote some sort of fundamentalist, intolerant form of Islam?

Phil, you’re still comparing someone defending a book that involves Islam from fear-mongering to someone defending a book that involves Mormonism or Catholicism from ridicule. Perhaps you’d prefer that I simply call it a wildly off-base apples-to-oranges comparison?

Phil, I think The 99 should be aired because it was planned to air, even if the animation is poor. There is actually a pretty big Mormon series about people with amazing powers around. And although I think it’s silly and at times offensive, I think it would be wrong to try to ban Twilight from being played in movie theatres and tv and being sold in bookstores.

No huxFord I’m actually not making a specific point about Mr. Khouri defending the 99. Rather I was pointing out that some people who would have no use for organized religon turning a blind eye if it was done toward another religon(using Mormanism as an example due to it’s non mainstream status). Whether the level is ridicule, or ‘apple’ status, or fearmongering, or ‘orange’ status I could care less as I was making a broader point. I don’t want to argue minutea or semantics, but there is a level of hypocrasy that, at times, I find cute.

Brigid Alverson

October 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

So what you are saying, Phil, is that people will go out of their way to defend a Muslim cartoon in a way that they woudn’t for other religious minorities?

I would say that might be true, for the simple reason that it’s more necessary: There is a lot of anti-Muslim hysteria being drummed up right now, and decent people need to push back on it. I find the rhetoric around this cartoon, the Campbell’s soup boycott, and the “Ground Zero mosque” (not a mosque, and not at Ground Zero) to be contemptible and beneath us as Americans.

There, I said it.

Discrimination against members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (their preferred term) is certainly out there but nowhere near as virulent as what is going on against Muslims. And it’s much less for Catholics and Jews.

Now if there was an atheist cartoon…


“but there is a level of hypocrasy that, at times, I find cute.”

Sure, in your non-existent, hypothetical situation comparing apples and oranges (ridicule and fearmongering are not different levels of the same thing), there’s hypocrisy. In reality, though, there is none. Especially if you actually read through Khouri’s article where he kinda makes fun of the larger “morals” crowd when pointing out how those on the right should probably be embracing the 99 cartoon more since it argues for the same things they supposedly do. Or when he goes on to say how boring, generic and bad the 99 is for basically boiling down to “rah rah good, boo evil” so simply.

I’m sorry if the idea offends but I stand by my comparison. I do feel that the endangerment of the 99 is on the same level as ‘Christmas is a bad word’ hysteria. Meaning that it will have zero effect on the property. The 99 will exist as a property just as long as there will be a Santa at walmart. So fearmongering vs ridicule (which you are fixated on) has a real world net affect of zero. The main reason its off the hub is because it’s a crap cartoon. So outside of that how has the 99 been affected other than a few rightwing articles being written about it?

So fearmongering has a real world net affect of zero”?

I wish the world I live in was more like the one in your head, at least on that particular point.

Actually when used as a semantic example, yes. Plus the world in my head has also has a lot less snark, condescension, projection, an inflated sense of self worth, and industry hanger on-ism. It’s actually quite nice.

Brigid Alverson

October 21, 2010 at 5:07 am

Sorry, Phil, I’m with Kevin here. There are plenty of crappy cartoons out there (including crappy Christian cartoons), but there has been a deliberate campaign targeting this because it is Islamic. Businesses dealing with a perceived public outcry often take the path of least resistance. Although it might have been easier to defend if it was superb rather than mediocre.

He makes a good point about Sharia not being one closely defined thing. What is called “sharia law” in one place might not be so defined in another place. Many cultural elements that have their origins in pre-Islamic traditions are incorporated into local versions of sharia. And of course it all gets mixed up with political ambitions, etc. It’s not like all American politicians who campaign on “traditional values” truly believe in or practice them, but they use them when it suits their purposes.

One thing that Kouri says that is being lost in the noise is that he created The 99 not to promote Islam to the non-Islamic world but to create culturally Islamic heroes who could be a tolerant, compassionate, and just alternative to the sorts of “heroes” that al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, and Hamas are offering to young people.

I am sorry, but it is actually quite the opposite of anti-Muslim hysteria if you look at most of the media. Also, calling it a “cultural center” is only a cover. No one would call something a Christian “cultural center”. It would be a church, plain and simple. In addition, the building that was standing where this mosque will be was hit by a piece of one of the planes. I therefore consider that area to be a part of “Ground Zero”.

I really don’t care if they build mosques on every street elsewhere in the city. All I know is that a Greek Orthodox church WAS at Ground Zero and they were denied permission to rebuild. Therefore, no mosque for me.

It is pretty sad and disturbing that the conservative Christians who get so up in arms over Muslim fundamentalists… are actually all too like the extremist Muslims in Iran who call for Muslim rule and oppressive laws.

As for the Orthodox Church, to me, they’re meeting the same red tape, political BS, and NIMBYism that the mosque / cultural center is meeting. Both should be allowed to be built yet are being held back by a bunch of whiny people who make 9/11 a roadblock from which America cannot move forward from. It’s been almost a decade and lower Manhattan still is a mess because of too many people not being able to let America move on and prosper. Rebuilt the Greek church, build the Islamic center, a full mosque even, build damn well anything. Is no one else sick of the giant hole of nothingness surrounded by no progress in the middle of the once bustling lower Manhattan?!

It really is amusing to see people make such sweeping statements condemning the sweeping statememnts of others. The Ground Zero Mosque is hardly a “plank” of the Republican and Tea Parties – there a MANY Democrats including Speaker Harry Reid who have come out against the building of that so close to Ground Zero , where terrorists killed in the name of Islam. Yes, they were extremists, but they were still Muslims, and why is it so hard for people to understand that many people would think that it is completely insensitive to build an Islamic Mosque nearby?

And as far as Sharia law being in line with the principles inspired by Superman, well, I guess I never read the story where Clark was allowed, by law, to beat and force himself upon Lois because she would not have sex with him.

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