THE 99 is an animated series featuring superheroes inspired by Islamic culture and society. The series was scheduled to launch in the US last week on the The Hub children’s television network, but producers have since announced the broadcast will be postponed indefinitely. Vicious anti-Muslim bigots everywhere are gleeful, boasting that their small but boisterous outcry may have prompted the delay.
The New York Post published a scathing article by outrage peddler Andrea Peyser criticizing the series and calling on anti-Muslim bigots to protest loudly so they can “cancel THE 99 before it starts.” Peyser says the series will indoctrinate impressionable young children with Sharia-compliant Muslim superheroes “masquerading as the good guys.”
For Peyser the Hateful, Muslims are always super villains, so characters who represent the 99 virtues of God in the Qur’an will naturally use their powers to wage the ultimate jihad. She conjures up fearsome images of Jabbar the Powerful dishing out a mean stoning, and Darr the Afflicter venting his rage on hapless dhimmis.
The looniest blogger ever, Pamela Geller, told CNN that THE 99 is unacceptable because Islam must be portrayed as misogynistic, violent, and oppressive to non-Muslims, and that there must be an emphasis placed on Islam’s bloody, violent history. She said anything else is just “dawah proselytizing.”
Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, the Kuwaiti-born, U.S.-educated psychologist who created THE 99, said he never expected to face his fiercest opposition to the series in the US, a country that prides itself on diversity and tolerance. The whole point of THE 99 was to bridge the gap between Islam and the West by promoting universal values and encouraging tolerance, cooperation, and mutual understanding. Al-Mutawa said he wants to provide positive role models to all children:
“I told the writers of the animation that only when Jewish kids think that THE 99 characters are Jewish, and Christian kids think they’re Christian, and Muslim kids think they are Muslim, and Hindu kids think they’re Hindu, that I will consider my vision as having been fully executed.”
Geller is not appeased, and continues to describe the series as an onslaught of cultural jihad aimed at radicalizing American children. She says the true superheroes are “counter-jihadists” like Ibn Warraq, Nonie Darwish, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, all of whom are in fact rabid anti-Muslim loons. She has also launched a crude online parody called THE 19, which features Spencerman and Gellerwoman as superheroes presumably fighting Muslim evildoers.
Last month, Geller and her fellow hate mongers must have been thrilled with the release of a comic series that suits their agenda perfectly. Frank Miller is a legend in the comic world for writing and drawing film noir-style comic book stories, including Batman: The Dark Night Returns. Influential in Hollywood, he directed the film version of The Spirit and co-directed Sin City. Miller also produced the 2006 American fantasy action film 300, which some critics described as psychological warfare against Iran.
Miller released a post-9/11 propaganda comic series to correspond with the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, and said he hoped it would “really piss people off.” He was braced for a fatwa and seemed to look forward to a backlash that never came. Despite the underwhelming response from Muslims, Wired Magazine said:
“Holy Terror is a screed against Islam, completely uninterested in any nuance or empathy.” Miller has produced, “one of the most appalling, offensive and vindictive comics of all time. “
Outrage over the 9/11 attacks inspired Miller’s dark comic series steeped in insatiable rage and vengeance, but the same events also inspired Al-Mutawa, who said he wanted to take Islam back from the extremists who had hijacked it. He conceived of the idea for his series during a London cab ride with his sister in 2003.
Al-Mutawa envisioned THE 99 as a world-class comic book on a par with American classics, so he assembled a team of veteran writers and artists with experience creating comic icons like Spider-man, Power Rangers, and X-Men. In 2006, he launched his new series to audiences in the Middle East.
THE 99 quickly became the most popular comic book in the region, selling over a million copies per year, and prompting Forbes Magazine to declare the series as one of the 20 trends sweeping the globe. An English language version launched in the US in 2007 without opposition. Industry giant DC Comics gave the series a promotional boost in 2010 by producing a six-part limited edition crossover that paired THE 99 with classic American superheroes including Batman, Superman, and the Justice League of America.
In 2009, Al-Mutawa decided to turn his successful comic book into an animated series. His company, Teshkeel Media Group, partnered with a Dutch company to co-produce and distribute the new series. The cartoon version of THE 99 has also been a smashing success, and it is expected to reach viewers in over 50 countries by the end of next year.
THE 99 was initially banned in Saudi Arabia when critics expressed concern that Al-Mutawa was violating Islamic Law with characters that personified God. Al-Mutawa eventually won approval for the series after he convinced religious authorities that the characters are not manifestations of God, but merely extol the 99 virtues mentioned in the Qur’an.
Saudi Arabia has since signed on for merchandise deals and even plans to build its own Disney-style theme park based on the series. The 99 Village opened in 2009 in Kuwait, and several more theme parks are planned throughout the region. Today no Arab country bans THE 99, which is also broadcast in a growing number of Muslim countries outside the Arab world, including Turkey and Indonesia.
Not everyone is happy about the widespread acceptance THE 99 has received in the Muslim world. Phyllis Chesler, another rabid anti-Muslim bigot and friend of Pamela Geller, has criticized Muslims for what she describes as “disturbing double standards.” She says they are turning a blind eye to Al-Mutawa while he creates 99 images of God, but they terrorize Westerners with fatwas and violence for lesser offenses.
Chesler is apparently a fan of far right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, and she is outraged that the Moooslims want to stop him from “telling the truth about Islam.” Wilders is infamous for spreading vicious lies against Islam and Muslims, and he is still vigorously exercising his right to free speech.
She said Muslims (apparently all of them) have also terrorized American cartoonist Molly Norris for her Everybody Draw Muhammad Day hate fest, and Dutch cartoonist Kurt Westergaard for his infamous drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-studded turban.
It is difficult to see the connection between these provocative events and the introduction of THE 99, but Chesler seems to think they should all inspire a backlash of equal proportions if the Muslims are to apply consistent standards. This is tortured logic, but in any case, shouldn’t it be a good thing that THE 99 didn’t cause a violent backlash?
Chesler and her loony friends certainly didn’t write any articles praising Muslims for their subdued reaction to Frank Miller’s provocative, hateful comic series. For them, Muslims always deserve only criticism, no matter what they do.
Chesler also expressed concern over what sinister “Muslim values” the series might foist on non-Muslim children. She asks, “Will children learn about democracy, modernity, tolerance, Enlightenment, women’s and gay rights from these ‘Islamic’ figures?”
Spider-man doesn’t typically lecture children on democracy, modernity, and Enlightenment. Those seem like heavy topics for a cartoon series written for children.
As for gay rights, how many gay and lesbian characters can you name from the Justice League or any other mainstream comic series? If Chesler is really an advocate for gay rights, she needs to expand her focus to the entire industry.
THE 99 does promote gender equality, which Al-Mutawa has elaborated on during numerous interviews. Islamphobes like Chesler and Geller will simply not let facts stand in the way of their propaganda efforts, and continue to spread the lie that the female characters in the series are oppressed and forced to wear Islamic clothing.
“Because [THE 99] is mainstreaming the institutionalized oppression of women under Sharia, as exemplified by the burqa-wearing superhero. One would think that the male superheroes would have superpowers strong enough to be able to control themselves without the women having to don cloth coffins.”
Batina the Hidden seems to be the loons’ favorite obsession. The character is from Yemen, and her clothing accurately reflects what some women wear in that country. Al-Mutawa said the burqa is not Islamic, but it is a cultural tradition that is important to some people, adding:
“I believe that forcing someone to wear the burqa is despicable. But I believe that if somebody wants to choose to do it, that’s their right…And so, out of respect for people who choose to wear the burka, I have one character out of 99—one percent—that wears a burqa. “
Although nearly every one of their articles tries to generate hysteria about Batina, the Hidden, Islamophobes have yet to explain how merely seeing a cartoon character wearing a burqa will traumatize American children. Marvel already has two characters who are Muslim women. The character Dust is from Afghanistan, and she wears a black ensemble that covers her from head-to-toe, showing only her eyes.
“I don’t view a Muslim superhero as avant garde. Muslims comprise 23 percent of the world’s population, and we like our comics to reflect the world and its diversity.”
Despite all the controversy, Dr. Al-Mutawa remains optimistic. He has faced many hurdles in the last eight years, and his frustrations have been chronicled in the PBS documentary Wham! Bam! Islam! “One way or the other,” he says, “‘The 99’ will get on air in the U.S.”