Salon spoke with author Reza Aslan about his thoughts on what the leftwing outlet describes as Bill Maher’s “anti-Muslim crusade.” Aslan, a four-time guest on Maher’s show, claims that what Maher, Fox News and CNN are now doing is different and “frank bigotry.”
I suppose I would say that what’s different is that Bill Maher’s usual critique of religion in general has morphed into a real crusade against one religion in particular, Islam, which he has on repeated occasion said is worse than the other religions [and] not like other religions; other religions are bad, but Islam is far, far worse.
And I would say that the other thing that’s a little bit different is that the criticism of Islam has really crossed the line into what can only be described as frank bigotry. When he starts decrying how many babies born in Europe are named Mohammad, says things about Muslims in America “bringing that desert stuff into our world” — that is no longer just simple criticism of religious doctrine or practice. That’s a very specifically targeted animosity towards a particular group of people. You don’t see him saying things like that about other religious groups — though, again, in his defense, to him the problem is religion in general. …
This is not just a problem with Bill Maher, it’s not just a problem with CNN or Fox News.
I think there is a general oversimplification [in American media] when it comes to the discourse about Islam and Muslims. And partly that has to do with the reality that in large parts of the Muslim world there are undeniable, unavoidable political/cultural/sectarian/religious conflicts that are saturating our television screens. So if you are just some average person watching the news on a regular basis, it’s not that difficult to draw a line between the violence that’s taking place in Syria and Iraq and the Muslim who lives across the street from you.
The full interview is here.