For Ramadan: Five Movie Muslims

Categories: Movies
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. (1985)
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 binge.


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