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Old 07-27-2005, 03:16 PM   #1
RGWhat316
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Even Arabs are against the Hassan character.

One of our papers, the Detroit Free Press, put a big article on Hassan on the very front page Tuesday. I found it on their website, an interesting read.

Major wrestling show rubs terror wounds raw

Detroit character a villain to many
July 26, 2005

BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER


He is an Arab American born and raised in Detroit.

But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Muhammad Hassan was treated like an outsider: profiled at airports, ethnically insulted and shunned by a cold America. And so he transformed into a raging fiend bent on revenge.

That story -- complete fiction -- is the basis of a controversial pro-wrestling character watched by millions across the country over the past several months. Scowling, he enters arenas with an Arab headdress to the thump of Middle Eastern music and cries of "Allah Akhbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great." Despite the baying crowds, he usually wins.

But late Sunday night, Hassan was beaten bloody in a match that may be his last. After protests from viewers, TV stations and Arab-American groups, Hassan's character has been written out of the fantasy world of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

The writers of the script say it was a sensitive portrayal of how bigotry can lead Muslims down a radical path.

But to many local Arab Americans, it was a story line that stoked hatred for profit.

"You're creating negative views of Arab Americans," said Bilal Dabaja, a 20-year-old college student of Arab descent from Dearborn who loved pro wrestling when he was younger. "We know he's performing an act, but for a lot of young kids, these stories could be seen as true."

They are stories that highlight tensions about the status of Arab Americans and Muslims living in the West after the London bombings earlier this month. But the show's provocative suggestion -- that some Western-raised Muslims may pose a threat -- is one many locally find absurd.

The character is played by Mark Copani, a tanned Italian-American from New York. The role came under intense criticism July 7, the day of the London terrorist attacks, when UPN aired a match that night featuring Hassan. He loped into the arena with five men in black ski masks and camouflage as the crowed chanted "U-S-A!"

After Hassan's manager, an Iranian Muslim, was beaten senseless by an opponent, the five men carried the manager out on their shoulders in what appeared to be a funeral for a suicide bomber.

Viewer protests followed, prompting UPN to lean on the WWE to dump the character, UPN spokeswoman Joanna Massey said Monday.

WWE officials agreed and said Monday that Hassan probably will not be back after Sunday night's match, which again featured the suicide-bomber story line. But the WWE insists the depiction was a positive one that tried to probe the bias Arab Americans have faced over the past few years.

"The writers did a fairly good job of giving background and context to the character," said Gary Davis, a spokesman for WWE. "They were trying to get across a very serious issue that Arab Americans face."

Local Arab Americans don't buy that.

Imad Hamad's three kids, ages 7 to 11, enjoy watching professional wrestling at their home in Dearborn. But they were confused, and troubled, when they started to see Hassan on the show "SmackDown," watched by 5 million viewers every week.

"My kids were saying: This is not us, this is not right," said Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which took a lead role in trying to remove the character. "There's nothing entertaining when it comes to hatred and bigotry."

Hassan made his debut in November, when he started to appear in TV promos. In the world of professional wrestling, backstories are part of the fun, giving viewers colorful tales that add to the drama.

Hassan's story was this:

Born in the United States, he wanted to fit in. But after Sept. 11, 2001, the 20-something became the victim of bias and ethnic harassment. In one clip on www.wwe.com, he and his Iranian manager, Daivari, are in a rage, glaring at the screen in what appears to be an airport.

"Because we are of Arab descent, we are singled out, we are humiliated and often we are strip-searched because my name is Muhammad," growls Hassan, played by Copani. "We are Arab Americans," he adds, putting a strong emphasis on "Americans." "And we demand the same rights that any American has. And if you don't give us the respect that we demand, then I will beat it out of anyone who gets in my way!"

Hassan played his first match in January. Weighing 245 pounds, he usually entered the arena with Arabic music and Islamic calls to prayer blaring over a loudspeaker. He was always angry.

"He was a loyal Arab American, but was treated differently because he happened to be Arab," explained Davis. "His anger caused him to take the course of embracing his roots and being defiant to his fellow Americans because of their reaction to him."

In one of his first matches, Hassan declared to a booing crowd:

"If you don't open your eyes and see what you're doing to my Arab brothers, to me, to me," he proclaims in a clip on www.wwe.com, "then my New Year's resolution will be to personally beat some sense into America."

Such stereotypes during times of foreign conflict are not new in pro wrestling. During the 1980s, as the United States squared off against Iran and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, two of the most popular wrestlers were the Iron Sheikh and Nikolai Volkoff.

The Iron Sheikh, who was actually from Iran, defiantly waved an Iranian flag and sneered at the United States. He was world champion for about a month starting in December 1983, but lost his title to Hulk Hogan. In 1985, Iron Sheikh teamed up with Volkoff, a Russian, to win the tag-team championship.

Years later, the Iron Sheikh had a running feud with Sgt. Slaughter, a wrestler who was a proud member of the U.S. Army.

This year, as the Iraq war droned on, Hassan's loyalty was often called into question by other wrestlers.

It's all an act. But to many Arab Americans, a painful one
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Old 07-27-2005, 03:22 PM   #2
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Old 07-27-2005, 03:52 PM   #3
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Early on in the role, they established that Hassan is not like "most" Arab Americans. Back when he feuded with Lawler, he even said the other Arab Americans can go to hell for letting the white man walk all over them.
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Old 07-27-2005, 06:13 PM   #4
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Honk if you're surprised.
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Old 07-27-2005, 06:36 PM   #5
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So many people fell for the okey-doke when it came to Hassan, I'm not surprised.
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Old 07-27-2005, 06:43 PM   #6
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See, this is the problem with Muslims. No solidarity. Fags? The minute a gay's on TV, he's a cult hit. We support Queer Eye, Rico, Shawn Michaels, Emine...Well, everyone's got their black sheep...
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Old 07-27-2005, 09:51 PM   #7
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Hatred, Bigotry?

It's ONE person, ONE Arab-American, The Character isn't modelled to be like every other Arab-American. On the other side, say a White Man is on tv and does something stupid, I wouldn't be insulted and complain about how "The Writers of this show hate White People! That isn't how I act!".

What happened to Common Sense?
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Old 07-27-2005, 10:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hired Hitman
Hatred, Bigotry?

It's ONE person, ONE Arab-American, The Character isn't modelled to be like every other Arab-American. On the other side, say a White Man is on tv and does something stupid, I wouldn't be insulted and complain about how "The Writers of this show hate White People! That isn't how I act!".

What happened to Common Sense?
It went out the window in the "New Age."

Nowadays, all minority characters must be strong, confident, and likable.

Unless they're niggers, in which case they must be minstrel show stereotypes.

Seriously, and how many people did they talk to anyway? They probably grabbed the most reactionary people they could find, and ran with it. Hassan is bad for reflecting Arabs in general, yet they get a handful of Arabs to speak for Arabs in general? Seriously, that's some fucked up shit there.

Why the assumption that Hassan speaks for all Arabs? Why assume that anyone can? Why complain about a stereotype in a business of Stereotypes? Should white folks be offended by Jamie Knoble because he portrays all white folks as trailer trash?
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Old 07-28-2005, 09:57 PM   #9
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If you want to read this article it's on the website of the Free Press also. I live in Lansing, MI where we get the Freep & News in addition to the Lansing State Journal which is our hometown paper. But the link to the article is http://www.freep.com/entertainment/tvandradio/wrestle26e_20050726.htm. In case you wanted to just make sure noone made up the article or something...I went down to the store Tuesday Evening originally for an LSJ but when I saw they only had one DFP left and it had the Hassan article I had to get it. Just wonder what Khosrow Daivari's real name is if that is not his real name...
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Old 07-29-2005, 08:30 AM   #10
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"The writers did a fairly good job of giving background and context to the character," said Gary Davis, a spokesman for WWE. "They were trying to get across a very serious issue that Arab Americans face."
Yeh, every arab american hates it when the Undertaker knocks out their mate and his other friends (dressed entirely in robes, mind you) have come and take him to the hospital on their shoulders. It's so gritty and true it's almost like reality
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:32 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Chavo Jnr Jnr
Yeh, every arab american hates it when the Undertaker knocks out their mate and his other friends (dressed entirely in robes, mind you) have come and take him to the hospital on their shoulders. It's so gritty and true it's almost like reality
I don't think that's what they were talking about.
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:35 AM   #12
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I was trying to say that Hassan isn't a typical American-Arab. He's a cartoon reflection of what Vince and co think an American-Arab should be, and that's why it's maybe too offensive.
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:51 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chavo Jnr Jnr
I was trying to say that Hassan isn't a typical American-Arab. He's a cartoon reflection of what Vince and co think an American-Arab should be, and that's why it's maybe too offensive.
The contextual background of Hassan's character was great. Right up until the point he wrestled, he was a 3-D character. Then he became a whiny heel.
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:53 AM   #14
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No doubt it's a great character. But like all edgey stuff in the WWE, they decided to take the extreme position. I mean, Rico couldn't be homosexual - he had to be a rampant gay wearing face paint, spandex and spanking other men's arses.

Similarly, Hassan couldn't be American-Arab, he had to be an ignorant beligerant, jingolistic trouble-maker.
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Old 07-29-2005, 11:13 AM   #15
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Rico was simply doing the Adrian Street gimmick. Goldust wasn't necessarily gay either. That's more or less like calling Hassan's henchmen Arab terrorists, when there was no indication of either.
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Old 07-29-2005, 11:16 AM   #16
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They couldn't have said it clearer by putting ski masks on them and carrying Divari out of the arena on their shoulders. Maybe having them drive down to the ring on a red double-decker London bus would do the trick?
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Old 07-29-2005, 11:23 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chavo Jnr Jnr
They couldn't have said it clearer by putting ski masks on them and carrying Divari out of the arena on their shoulders. Maybe having them drive down to the ring on a red double-decker London bus would do the trick?
Well except the guys were obviously fat white guys.

Not that wrestlers are hrorendously obese, but when's the last time you saw a fat arab (Except Triple A's mom), and a terrorist no less?

Carrying someone off like that? Only happens to terrorists.

Yeah, you're onto something.
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Old 07-29-2005, 11:26 AM   #18
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Anyway, he's gone and we can all go back to living in a care-free world where there aren't offensive anti-arab themes on my tv and I feel a lot safer and at peace with myself. Until I step out onto my doorstep and realise the London terrorists lived three blocks away from me and were cooking up explosives and lethal plans while I slept in my bed.
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Old 07-29-2005, 05:28 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Chavo Jnr Jnr
Anyway, he's gone and we can all go back to living in a care-free world where there aren't offensive anti-arab themes on my tv and I feel a lot safer and at peace with myself. Until I step out onto my doorstep and realise the London terrorists lived three blocks away from me and were cooking up explosives and lethal plans while I slept in my bed.
The world is safe once more from the evil influence of something we don't like.
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Old 07-29-2005, 06:25 PM   #20
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Blanka does not have that much rep yet (10+)
Even more bullshit.
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Old 07-29-2005, 07:03 PM   #21
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Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)Sascha is having sex with your girlfriend and her slightly more attractive sister (100,000+)
On one hand it's kinda bullshit that people are offended by it, I mean the guy was saying that it was unfair to be treated they way they were.
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Old 07-29-2005, 07:13 PM   #22
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They should hire another arab wrestler and make him face. then He and hassan could feud
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Old 07-30-2005, 04:06 AM   #23
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Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)Corkscrewed has a relatively large amount of rep (50,000+)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kane Knight

Carrying someone off like that? Only happens to terrorists.

Yeah, you're onto something.
Well, DUH. Have you ever seen Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet? At the end, after he dies, he's carried just like that by Fortenbras' soldiers.

And everyone knows that Hamlet was clearly a terrorist.
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