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  • Independent Lens

Independent Lens | Wham! Bam! Islam! | Trailer | PBS

Duration: 02:50
Program: Independent Lens #1301
Broadcast Date: Oct. 16, 2011

Premiering in October. Check local listings: www.pbs.org In 2003, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa — Kuwaiti psychologist, graduate of Columbia Business School and father of four young boys — had an idea: create a comic book series with roots in Islam and Islamic culture. Al-Mutawa came up with the concept of The 99: a team of superheroes, each one exemplifying one of the 99 attributes of Allah. His motivations were both entrepreneurial and idealistic — The 99 would exemplify the Islamic virtues of compassion, understanding, and tolerance -- qualities not often associated with Islam by the West. Within the Islamic world, Al-Mutawa hoped these new role models would counter the growing tide of political and religious extremism. As a business, it was a daunting task — comics were relatively unknown in the Arab market and those that existed were all Western imports. Al-Mutawa managed to raise $7 million in initial capital from 54 investors across four continents and brought together a team of comic book veterans to create The 99. The first issue was released during Ramadan 2006 and although it enjoyed widespread critical success, The 99 immediately came under suspicion from religious leaders. The comic was banned in Saudi Arabia and there were threats of a fatwa forbidding The 99. As Al-Mutawa battles the cultural gatekeepers (both anointed and self-anointed) to a draw Al-Mutawa becomes a forceful advocate for an Islam based on open-mindedness and individual thought.

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Post Date: October 6, 2011