Muslims protest portrayal as terrorists on '24'



Muslims protest portrayalas terrorists on '24'
CLIFTON, N.J. -- Two years ago, Muslim groups protested when the plot of the hit Fox drama '24' cast Islamic terrorists as the villains who launched a stolen nuclear missile in an attack on America.
Now, after a one-year respite during which Russian separatists played the bad guys on the critically acclaimed series, Muslims are back in the evil spotlight. They have already succeeded in detonating a nuclear bomb in a Los Angeles suburb.
Being portrayed again as the heartless wrongdoers has drawn renewed protests from Muslim groups.
"The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season's premiere. "After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn't sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality."
She said the group had a conference call Wednesday with Fox executives to protest the current plot line and request more positive portrayals of Muslims on the show, but was not promised anything.
In a written statement issued late Wednesday, the network said it has not singled out any ethnic or religious group for blame in creating its characters. "Over the past several seasons, the villains have included shadowy Anglo businessmen, Baltic Europeans, Germans, Russians, Islamic fundamentalists, and even the [Anglo-American] president of the United States," the statement read.
Japanese leader praisesWill Smith's 'Pursuit'
TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his countrymen could use a piece of advice from Will Smith's new movie, "The Pursuit of Happyness," the story of a homeless man and his young son who make good.
"I think we should treasure the idea of not giving up dreams," Abe said.
Smith and Abe met at the prime minister's official residence Thursday. The 38-year-old actor is visiting Japan to promote the film, released by Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures. "The Pursuit of Happyness" is based on the rags-to-riches story of Chris Gardner, played by Smith, and his 5-year-old son, who find themselves homeless.
"We are aiming to create a society that is full of chances and allows people to take up a challenge again," Abe said. "The movie presents us an example of such society."
Today's birthdays
Actress Jean Stapleton is 84. Singer Phil Everly is 68. Actress Shelley Fabares is 63. Country singer Dolly Parton is 61. Singer Dewey Bunnell (America) is 55. Actor Desi Arnaz Jr. is 54. Comedian Paul Rodriguez is 52. Tennis player Stefan Edberg is 41. Actor Shawn Wayans is 36.

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