‘Simpsons’ episode spoofs fear of Sharia law

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A recent episode of “The Simpsons” which aired Dec. 11 has drawn mixed reactions from local community members.

In the episode, titled “Holidays of Future Passed,” the character Milhouse attends the University of Michigan – Dearborn dressed in a Niqab, a cloth worn by some Muslim women which covers the face. The episode also addressed the perceived notion that Dearborn is under control of Shariah law, tenants of daily life outlined in the Koran.

Reaction was tempered among those who did not see the episode, but knew about its content.

“I’m aware of it,” said Imad Hamad, regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “It touched on a very sensitive and serious matter.”

Nineteenth District Court Judicial Executive Suehalia Amen, who is featured on the TLC series “All-American Muslim,” said she saw the episode and took a light-hearted approach to the content.

“I’m well aware that when you make it to ‘The Simpsons,’ and they make fun of you, that’s when you know that you’ve made it,” she said.

Hamad said that the topic of Shariah law is often used by ultra-conservative groups as a fear tactic. He said the portrayal of Sharia law in the episode was not offensive, but could be misinterpreted by those who look to connect it to fury aimed at the city.

“Nowadays it’s enough to say Islam or Muslims and people think of the bad,” he said. “The intention may be good, but others may take it and twist it.”

Students at the college echoed those sentiments.

“If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?” student Eric Kearn said. “I thought it was in good taste.”

Student Deena Sleimar said the portrayal accurately represented the students on campus, while student Zainab Sabbagh said it allowed for acceptance of the culture.

“Poking fun is the first step at attempting to understand,” Sabbagh said.

Hamad said he also doesn’t take offense to the episode.

“As a comedy show, I don’t think we need to read to much into it,” he said. “Jokes are jokes, as long as it’s respectful.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)