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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Why Does The WWE Hate Islam"
March 31, 2005 by Ketheach O'Daillaigh


Hello everybody out there in OWW World. My name is Ketheach, and I should point out that I actually do work as a journalist and writer, but this is my first venture into the world of wrestling writing. As such make sure you pass comment on what I am saying whether or not you agree with it, and things you think will improve it. Just post it here, or if you feel strongly enough, e-mail me at ketheach@yahoo.co.uk

Religion has always been a huge influence in the WWE. It's just not always been obvious. And if you guessed that Mohammed Hassan was going to make an appearance in this column, you're right.

I have to admit that I'm more than a little bit upset at the way that the Mohammed Hassan character has been played out, not because of anything he has particularly said or done, but just the predictability of it all. Hassan is pissed off at America, at the way he has been treated since 9-11 and the way that the WWE is headed. A bit obvious, really. So he uses violence to achieve his goals. Now granted that he is a wrestler, so of course he is going to fight. That's not my problem. My problem is that he is supposedly beating respect and tolerance for his ideas into them, which is one of the main beliefs of Islamofascists. No normal Muslim would believe in beating people into believing into their cause. For instance, the literal translation of Islam is peace. Nor is it the only instance. Despite being billed as from Detroit, he wears a headdress and light white cotton clothing.

While these may be seen as being Islamic, they are actually worn because of climatic conditions in the Middle East, and have nothing to do with Islam (although Islam does have some restrictions on clothing). There is no reason for any Muslim, and especially not one in a cooler climate like Mohammed Hassan, to be wearing it. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, with 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, and almost 9 million Muslims in North America. Now imagine the percentage of Muslims who are involved in Islamofascist groups. You're talking 100,000 at best, which accounts for not even 0.5% of the Muslim world. Now taking that the population of the United States is 290 million, with 77% of them being Christian, and factoring in the growth of militias and Neo-Conservatism from within these groups, who do you think is more of a threat to America right now". And if the WWE is a reflection of society (as they claimed when the Hassan character first appeared) then where are all the white, Christian right-wing nut jobs in the WWE list of characters. Shawn Michaels comes out every week talking about Jesus and God, Jake Roberts did the same, and yet we never see them out bombing abortion clinics or pissing off the other wrestlers by trying to convert them. There are a lot more Christians in America who fall into the extreme category than there are Muslims. Since the WWE reflects society, where the hell are the Christian Fundamentalists" To be quite honest, I would rather keep Christian Fundamentals off television, but if you are going to marginalise one group of people, you really should at least try to present a fair a balanced view.

This is hardly the first time that this has happened. Remember Tiger Ali Singh. The Iron Sheik. If the WWE wants to portray this element of Islam, fine, it's out there after all, but the point is that in twenty years the WWE has never portrayed a normal, rounded, Muslim character. They have never had an Arab character that likes America, which is respectful of other points of view, which present the Islam religion as anything other than sinister. When the WWE create characters like the Jackal, they make it clear that he is a religion onto himself, rather than an offshoot of the evangelical movement in America. When organisations like the RTC where created, not once did they mention Christianity, despite the fact that most of the people that hold these positions in reality do so out of a belief that it is their Christian duty.

Of course it's pointless to try to appeal to the morality of a company like the WWE. There is only one thing that they understand, money. Despite the fact that most of the WWE's creative team couldn't create an interesting character if Shakespeare himself walked in looking for a job, they should at least be looking at ways to get people to look at their product, but more importantly, they should be trying to appeal to as many people as possible. Any company that goes out to offend 9 million potential customers really needs to examine its leadership. And that's a conservative estimate. After all, by the WWE's own admission, they are going to be relying a lot more on overseas trips.

But by many estimates, Islam, the world's fastest growing religion, is going to overtake Christianity in the next 50 years as the largest religion in the world. With the influx of immigration, conversion and large family sizes, Islam is expected to be the main religion of Europe in the next thirty years. It is also growing at a larger rate than all other religions combined in the former Soviet States, it has 30% of the population in the Indian sub-continent, and it is the largest growing religion in North America. All customers that the WWE can kiss goodbye. And that's not even counted the amount of people that are non-Muslim but can't stomach the type of racial stereotyping. How many companies want to be associated with an organisation that is indulging in those sorts of practises". Of course it could be worse. Vince McMahon should be on his knees thanking whatever it is he believes in that he hasn't ended up like Theo Van Gogh.And don't worry about the character Mohammed Hassan. The next attack on America is going to come from the Shawn Michaels's and JBL's of this world.

Islam, as a religion, invented what has become modified as boxing as an acceptable form of entertainment, so they should be predispositioned towards the WWE product. At a time when the WWE needs all the fans it can get,Mohammed Hassan could be a financially destructive mistake.

by Ketheach O'Daillaigh ..


Sammy wrote:
Well, I am a fan of Muhammad Hassan for the simple fact that he is Persian, like The Iron Sheik. As for the story-line, yes it is cheap and it is over done, but I think Hassan will eventually grow out of this role. I think he is good on the mic, and ring skills are quite good, so if they drop this story he could be a top notch star.

However the one thing that really annoys the hell out of me, is the fact that a Persian is playing the role of an Arab. Thus dumbing down the public even more to the stereotype that everyone from the middle east is Arab and is the same...whereas in real life Persian's are a very proud race and are a completely different race of people from Arabs. The reason I watched wrestling in the first place was because of the Iron Sheik...even though he had the "I hate America" story as well, at least he didn't sell him self out. Because everytime he came to the ring, he came in with the Persian Flag (pre Islamic Revolution flag).

And for the record Davari, speaks Persian (different language to Arabic) like a 10 year old kid. Its hilarious for me to sit there and hear Davari shouting at Hassan to hit his opponent, because what he says makes no sense.

Anyway, to cut it short...I think Hassan is a great talent, but I'm just fed up with the Stereotyping that all Middle Easters are Arabs...especially since the people they have used for these roles have been Persians.
Shawn McKee wrote:
I absolutely agree. The saddest thing is, they COULD be doing a great angle at Wrestlemania with Hassan-Hogan, giving Hogan a last hurrah that would allow him to have one final Wrestlemania match, win over the Hulkamaniacs once again, and put a rest to the Hassan character that is going absolutely nowhere. If WWE wanted to draw some real heat to this guy, they would have brought him in about 2 years ago, but likely didn't due to obviously political ramifications that would ensue.

Hassan, the former Mark Magnus, is actually not a bad wrestler. He works amateur holds into his ring work, takes good bumps and knows how to rile up the crowd. But the constant shouting of Daivari distracts the focus from his matches, and cheapens the image of Muslims and Arab-Americans. The whole gimmick could have propel Hassan into super-heel status, but I don't see him going higher than mid-card(if he even wrestles on RAW at all). WWE has wasted talents like Tiger Ali-Singh before, and in his last few appearances over the years, The Iron Sheik has become a "gimmick character" as opposed to the great athlete he should have been portrayed as.

Either have someone squash Hassan at a big PPV, or get rid of him entirely. All he's doing is coming out on RAW week after week, reiterating the same speech: he's Arab-American and can't get a break. Either utilize this wrestler for his talents, or stop wasting valuable airtime on something no one cares about
Christian Wattengård wrote:
Ofcource everything about Hassan is made like it is for a reason. When I was younger, in the middle of the 90's, it seemed like wrestling had a more defined line between "good guys" and "bad guys". Now that line seems more wiped out except for a few extremes on the "bad guy" side. One of these "extreme bad guys" is Hassan. He plays his role very well. It's not the character itself that is bad, the character is a normal muslim person, but it's what they do with the character. I have never seen his debut (just recently started watching wrestling again) but what I have seen of him is that he deliberately tries to make the audience mad at him. And he is achieving this by using his religion. I don't think this is very much different from the Cena/JBL feud, where JBL mocks Cena for beeing a "street punk". But imho they should not use religion for storylines. The Cena/JBL line is more of a political line and that's ok.

When that is said, I whish they could have found another character/storyline for Hassan because I can see potential in him as a wrestler. If someone could stick a sock in Kaivari's mouth :)
Roderick G wrote:
Not a direct comment on Islam or on Hassan but rather on the WWE Fans. Like you said he is billed from the USA and his orignal Hometown is Syracuse, New York as his OWW Profile says...So why in the heck would chanting USA bug this guy. Do the fans really think it gets to him" Or do they just not hear him when he says Arab-American meaning he is from here. And as I seen it debated before. But it seems his 1st apperance on Raw was quite neutral but it wasnt until the fans actully booed him for saying Alah(sorry if missed spell) that he turned Heel. And started being the person we see today. I was just wondering if there is a real reason to why fans insist on booing him and chanting USA as if that punishes him. I like the guy cause I saw him wrestle in OVW and I think its great hes on WWE RAW. But what sucks is he might have to live with this gimmick forever...I mean he cant just come out one night and stop. Only difference I see (from OVW to WWE) is he got a tan. Thanks.
bela kaltenekker wrote:
Ketheach, its pretty obvious that this is your first time writing about wrestling. Religion has seldom been used in the WWE, WWF for your own knowledge long before name change, and not always as you claim.Only a few times has religion surfaced in storylines at all. Jake Roberts and the crucification of Steve Austin come immediately to mind but im sure there are a couple more. The Islamic faith is may be made to look second class, but that is not the disturbing part of Hassans storyline, despite the fact that he is greek or italian(depending on whitch website you read) , another fact that you do not make note of. The disturbing part of this storyline is that there is no end to what Vince, Vince Mchmahon owner of WWE, will do to make a buck. I am surprised that it took him this long to use the feelings of 9-11 to sell tickets. By using this formula to put butts in seat, at the hope of seeing Hassan beat, and stiring up feelings of people that are just starting to heal, Vince once again shows his utter contempt for the intelligence and feelings of the people that ultimately put bread on his table.
ShaunCl wrote:
I agree with your colum, even thogh i am strictly aethist, i think Islam has been portrayed the wrong way. The wwe is playing on the times, thogh unlike 1991, with the Sgt Slaughter Iraq sympathiser storyline, this is the sort of thing that will offend a lot of people. If slaughter recieved death threats (Read wrestlemania the insiders story for more information), then i hate to think what some people, might try with Hassan. Of course nowadays most people know wrestlings fake, and that this is a storyline, thogh you never know.
Jay F. wrote:
Mohammed Hassan is clearly an extension of America's political relationship with the rest of the world. We simply don't exist. America has a history of exploitation and destruction of both friends and ultimately enemies whereby they take what they want and leave the rest to rot and move on. Watching Mohammed Hassan get thrown out the Royal Rumble the way that he did was the most stomach-churning and obvious reflection of this.

No matter how many time JR says that Mohammed Hassan speaks only as an individual and not as a representative as a whole, it is hard to swallow. When a character explicitly states that he represents at least in part the Arab world it is because the WWE want you to believe that he represents their oppression.

Whilst the RAW and SmackDown rosters were going at it in a feud the WWE will continue to push on the road to Wrestlemania, Mohamed Hassan entered the ring to a stunning reaction. Hassan entered the ring with no real provocation, baring a few standard taunts - typical of a heel character. Suddenly both rosters launched an unprovoked attack not just on Mohammed Hassan but on what he represented. After this inter-promotional feud had been built up for weeks (and was supposedly felt strongly by both camps,) it was quickly forgotten as America paused to throw out the foreigner, throw out the Arab, toss out the trash. Just because they preferred he wouldn't be there. And I thought the Royal Rumble was every man for himself.

Maybe I have entirely misread the situation and I'm jumping the gun. But I don't think so.

I believe that Vince is manipulating 9/11 for personal gain. In doing so he is soiling the memory of each and every person who died in the world trade centre. The same people America so publically revere. WWE crowds continually condone this action by jeering and booing Hassan at any given opportunity and are themselves representative of America's unsympathetic attitude towards the sensibilities and ideals of foreign cultures. It is these two faces of America which are a continuing disappointment to me. Drop the Gimmick, drop the prejudice.
Tris Xavier wrote:
I couldn't agree with Ketheach and Jay F more on the excellent article and the excellent response. As pointed out, the whole gimmick of Muhammad Hassan is one against Islam and Muslims and Allah, and not one of being merely a heel. And yes, when JR says Muhammad Hassan is merely one and not speaking for a larger group, the booking team must be laughing. Hassan's gimmick is one that exploits fears of 9/11, of a terrible incident that happened; but also the reflection of a genuine American opinion that there are no friends or enemies, only allies.

I have to admit I was quite frightened, scared and worried when I read the responses to the other article "Racism: Who Are The Heels"" by Chas Dewhurst which raised a few good points and which I agreed with. Unfortunately, some of the responses against the article and responses just underlined the attitude many in America possess and which Vinny Mac has used to make money: Irrational fear, hatred, and a frank misunderstanding of the truth of the situation. I feel for those who have friends in Iraq fighting the war, but when I see the tsunami videos on sites like Funnyvideos.com, I feel distinctly uncomfortable. 280,000 people died in those tsunamis (I live in the Pacific region, so it's very close to home), but videos of people running and fleeing as they watch their relatives die... That's just tragic.

As I said in my previous reply and as I will point out here (to rebutt bela kaltenekker), this gimmick is one in a long line of anti-American gimmicks. I'm not even talking about crucifixions either, and I believe that's the point Ketheach was trying to make. It's not a religion thing, it's a cultural issue.

You have anti-French sentiment exploited in La Resistance, when the French have been the biggest foreign investors in terms of GDP in the 20th century, the French were the ones who provided military assistance in the War of Independence (without them, America would still be a British colony) and unlike what some people said in the "Racism" article, the French were never allied with the Axis powers, they were only overrun very early in World War II. And all they did this time was point out that the US should consult further with the UN and consider the wishes of the Iraqis, not bomb them to bits and then shout "Democracy" from the rooftops. The French were the American's best friends across the Atlantic; this mistreatment of them as cowards is unjustified... And the gimmick is unpardonable.

You have anti-Russian sentiment from Nikolai Volkoff, anti-Iranian sentiment from the Iron Sheik and Sergeant Slaughter, anti-Muslim sentiment from Muhammad Hassan, anti-Canadian and British sentiment with the Un-Americans... It's ok if they come out and be complete asses like Simon Dean, who works very hard for his heat by insulting wrestling fans; or Jericho when he said the crowd didn't appreciate him.

But a cheap pop like racism" I just don't dig that.
Matthew Geddes wrote:
Here in Australia, we are proud of the fact that our diversity of nations heavily contributed to the local popularity of wrestling. Mario Milano is probably our finest ever. The WWE has always mirrored what it views to be a cross section of American society, and like it or not, the villification of Arabs is a part of that. (For example, imagine being an Arab-American today and actually wanting to become a pilot.) The best thing the WWE could have done with Mohammed Hassan is to have him face Hogan at WM21 and beat him clean. And then for Hogan to shake his hand after the match and raise his hand to the tune of A Real American. It would do more for Western-Arab relations than anything our leaders (Australia's included) have done since 9/11.
jerry sturm wrote:
whenever I see Muhammad Hassan & Davari, despite the fact that their "heels", I always end up cheering them on. in fact, most of the time, I want them to win, just because I feel they make valid points about what's wrong in America.

as an American, I think I can honestly say that we're far from being ideal & Hassan is merely pointing out valid complaints. the only real reason Hassan & Davari are boo'd so much is society is still way too racist. if I was wrong, more people would be giving these guys a chance, instead of boo'ing them for no valid reasons.
Dustin H. wrote:
I just read your column on the Online World of Wrestling website, and while I don't necissarily agree with everything you have to say, I found it VERY intriguing and educational. I must admit, I do not know much of the traditions and beliefs of Islam, so many of the things you said in this article have opened my eyes to a few things, but I think you are mis-interpretting a couple things.

You make it sound like Hassan comes out every week and says "As a Muslim, I have learned that if someone doesn't believe the same things I do, I assault them" which is not the case. As you said, he is a wrestler. His job is violence... he's been working out and training himself over the years to supposedly be able to beat the living hell out of people, so it's obvious that when he becomes upset, that's how he's going to solve it. Also, he never ONCE said that he was attacking people because it was the way of his religion... he says that HE was singled out. So, let say hypothetically, American's in general were afraid of BLONDE PEOPLE, then Trish Stratus, Edge, and others with BLONDE HAIR would be getting pissed off and attacking people. This is one guy saying "I've been treated unfairly, and I'm taking it out on you" not "My religion teaches me to hurt people". This isn't about ISLAM... its about the fact that middle-eastern people are being treated differently in society these days, and that inspired the writers to come up with a character who takes exception to that and, given his profession, chooses a course of action that he feels is fitting.

Now, look for example at La Resistance! That was a far more blatant stab at the French than Hassan is at Islam, because they actually come right out and say that the French are better than everyone else... yet, I know French people, and nobody complains. When Owen Hart was doing his whole "Pro-Canada, Anti-America" angle, nobody HERE got all up-in-arms... yet, a character is created who is offended by the blatant racial profiling in America these days, and all I hear day in and day out is how they "hate Islam". Well, I don't see that as the case, and I think that is a VERY close-minded way of looking at it. Racism is going to piss people off. That's why there have been angles like Theodore Long's "bein' heald down by THE MAN" outrage. Or, as far as clothing, etc. is concerned... what about the Nation Of Domination with their African attire" or when D'Lo brown was dressed as a typical black street thug" It's what people associate with the stereotype that they're trying to identify with.... an angry black man who hates white people dresses like a street thug or an African tribe member... and an angry "arab" who hates America wears the headdress.

And as far as the previous comments by Jerry Sturm... they aren't booed because SOCIETY is way too racist... they are booed because THEY are way too racist. Yes, some of their promos are valid complaints, but the rest of it is overly generalizing the American public saying that they're all racist. Take a recent promo for example where Hassan pointed to several fans and said "You, and you, and you... you're ALL racist". Now, correct me if I'm wrong... but if somebody who you've never met came up to you and told you what your set of beliefs are, and who you do and do not like or dislike without even giving you the chance to make your own case, just because you lived in a certain country, would you not boo them too" I know I would. They are booed because they are STRONGLY Anti-American while they're in America... it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they'll be booed for that. They're not booing his race... they're booing his comments and actions.

Now, this offends me in particular because I've seen this before. A white person, or in this case, the WWE fans as a whole, have a problem with the actions of someone of another race, and they're instantly called a racist. Nobody is going to suck up to Hassan and be his best friend while he's accusing them of being shallow racists. You insult the fans, attack the face's, and complain about their country... THEY ARE GOING TO BOO YOU!!! It's not racism, it's common sense.

Ketheach, you made great points, and you had me really thinking about your side of it. You're entitled to your opinion, and you stated your case well, so don't take this the wrong way... I just simply disagree. As far Jerry Sturm, however, comments like yours are almost as racist as you're claiming society to be. You're being JUST AS descriminating toward the average American as you say they are being to Muslims... not every Muslim is a terrorist, not by far. But the same goes in this case... not every white American is a racist. So until YOU are willing to stop being so descriminating, it's not right for you to criticize others.
Jay F wrote:
I find it difficult to see Dustin H's point of view. -- - -- It might not make sense to comment on "the traditions and beliefs of Islam" when you openly admit you "do not know much of the traditions and beliefs of Islam."

I do not believe that a wrestler's job is violence - he is not to destroy. In fact I believe his job is the opposite - to create, to tell a story and I don't think they train to beat the hell out of people either.

The issue I have with Muhammed Hassan is that when La resistance were doing their pro France gig - 3000 people didn't lose their lives in 9/11. When Owen Hart was doing his Pro-Canada gig - 3000 people didn't lose their lives in 9/11. When Theodore Long was "bein' heald down by THE MAN" - 3000 people didn't lose their lives in 9/11. When the Nation Of Domination wore their African attire - 3000 people didn't lose their lives in 9/11 and when D'Lo brown was dressed as a typical black street thug - 3000 people didn't lose their lives in 9/11. Notice the pattern Dustin"

Muhammed Hassan is the WWE's interpretation of the 'Arab American' and this was character was born out of 9/11 and nothing else. See my reply above for clarification. We know the fans aren't booing his race they are booing a creation that was born out of stereotypes and paranoia - that's the point! Its disgusting and you have simply missed it - it's about exploitation.

And how can Jerry Strum be racist for allowing an oppressed ethnic minority (who's cause he believes in) to voice their grievances. And if society isn't racist why are 'suspected terrorists' held without trial and good reason in places like camp x-ray. If you don't believe me check out this website and see the effects of what happens when people allow these stereotypes and paranoia (which you have failed to acknowledge) to persist.
Daniel Jackson wrote:
Firstly I would like to say well done to Jay F, Ketheach and Tris.

I agree with them all about WWE using religion to score points with the fans and with what Tris said because its not just religion its nationality aswell, as she pointed out Vince exploited the French with La resistance and so on.

But he does this for a reason, im not dignifying it because i strongly disagree with it but, yes he does it to make money, and yes he does it to pull in the crowds but he couldn't and wouldn't do either of these if his main fan base america didn't agree with what he's doing I'm not saying americans want him to exploit other nations and religions but to add fuel their first needs to be a fire.

For example in the cold war the WWF used Russians as heels and put them against americans simply because americans wanted to see America Triumph over Russia, and the french get alot of stick because in world war II instead of trying to fight the germans in a battle they knew they'd lose they instead just simply surrendered to save the lives of the men..... not very honourable but very sensible and it saved the lives of a lot of french but because of this the french are still getting alot of stick especially from the US and UK so vince uses this topull in the punters with these views. With the Arab its more or less the same thing but on a wider scale most of america is petrified about terrorism they don't understand that its a minor percentage of muslims that are extreme its not their fault because its what the media has them believe because while one person telling you something isnt very convincing 10 people all telling u the same thing is I live in the UK and we arent so much different from the US we've been having terrorism trouble their were the recent bombings in london theirs extremist threats flying round and i know that the media loves to exploit it .

Anyway my point is its not right for Vince to exploit the feelings of America but we cant blame him for the Racism as the Racism must already be their among people before he can exploit it.

To bring up another point though what vince does exploiting other countries and religions to win over fans in America isn't gonna do much for the relations between America and the rest of the world, as ketheach said about WWE losing its islamic fanbase it goes for Russia and France and UK because when I see an English man walking down to the ring and he starts to get insulted for example fans and superstars calling him a limey or an english snob basic stereotypes that we have it doesnt just insult him its and insult to me and anyother englishman watching and its gonna make me angry because i think to myself why are the americans being racist towards england and after being insulted so many times it'll make me so angry that im gonna start to hate americans becuase their being racist towards me and because i think that they must hate us and its not just a few because they do it at every arena and so on and so forth im sure the french love it when they tune in to watch the WWE and they end up getting insulted by being called frogs and whatever else they get strerotyped with and the more and more countries the WWE does this with the more hatred their going to stir up by making the world think that the americans are racist.

I hope i havn't offended anyone in this column although it a rareity when talking about extreme's like terrorism, religion and racism but i apologise if my views do offend anyone this is simply my point of view and i look forward to reply's to it.

And i would just like to say R.I.P Eddie Guerrero and that i hope he has gone to a better place.
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