Is laughter the best medicine for Islamophobia?
“The Daily Show” star Aasif Mandvi wants to find out.
The comedian is attempting to “challenge stereotypes and misinformation about Muslims” with a new web series called “Halal In The Family”.
A parody of the quintessential American sitcom "All In The Family," "Halal" follows the lives of an “all-American Muslim” family, with Mandvi starring as the dad. Each of the show’s four planned episodes focuses on a different challenge facing the American Muslim community today -- like government surveillance and spying; online bullying and hate networks; media bias; and "the use of anti-Muslim prejudice for political gain."
Halal in the Family will expose a broad audience to some of the realities of being Muslim in America. By using satire we will encourage people to reconsider their assumptions about Muslims, while providing a balm to those experiencing anti-Muslim bias. I also hope those Uncles and Aunties out there will crack a smile!
The web series traces its roots back to a “Daily Show” skit called “The Qu’osby Show,” a parody of “The Cosby Show.”
Production has wrapped up on the project. Mandvi is now trying to crowdfund money to cover the costs of promoting “Halal in the Family.” He wants to make sure the show reaches Americans who have “little to no exposure” to Muslims. The show's publicists did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“In order to change the conversation about Muslims in American media we need a diverse, unified movement of people who are willing to take a stand against anti-Muslim bias,” Mandvi writes. “By fueling a portion of this project with donations from across the country we will demonstrate that thousands of people are fed up with the treatment of American Muslims.”
In an interview with HuffPost Live, Mandvi admitted he isn’t the most devout of Muslims. Still, he said, religion will always be a part of his identity.
“Religion is so much more than the god you pray to. The religion that you associate with, it's culture, it is family, it is background. That is something that I have always grown up with," he said.
Linda Sarsour, Senior Strategist for the Campaign to Take on Hate, is an adviser to the project who has seen all the episodes. She called the show "brilliant" and "funny."
"[It] brings you the most pressing issues impacting American Muslims from bullying to discrimination to surveillance," she told HuffPost in an email. "Comedy allows people to put their guard down, it's less aggressive and you can weave important issues and political statements throughout. I am excited for its release into the living rooms of my fellow Americans across the country."
Americans’ opinions of Arabs and Muslims have become increasingly negative in the past decade. According to research conducted by the Arab American Institute, only 27 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Muslims, while 42 percent believed police are justified in using racial profiling to target Arab Americans and American Muslims. The negative feelings are strongest among Republicans and senior citizens, Reuters reports.