Ben Affleck’s debate on Bill Maher: ‘We’ve killed more Muslims by an awful lot’

Gone Girl ruled the box office this weekend with a $38 million take. (Annabelle was very close behind at $37.2 million.) That’s good news for Ben Affleck’s career, although the movie’s success may have more to do with marketing and the popularity of Gillian Flynn’s novel. (I’ve read it but I haven’t seen the movie yet. Kaiser will have a review coming up shortly.)

Affleck has been hustling to promote the film. He made an appearance this weekend on Bill Mahar’s Real Time on HBO, where he got into a debate with Mahar and author Sam Harris on Islamaphobia and criticism of Islam. Harris claimed that liberals are afraid to criticize Islamic doctrine for fear of being labeled Islamaphobic. Affleck countered that it is Islamaphobic to criticize Islamic doctrine. Then Maher chimed in to call Islam “the only religion that acts like the mafia that will f*ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” It was a mess, but I don’t regularly watch debate shows and it’s probably par for the course. Here’s some of what they said, and you can see the video above.

Sam Harris: Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy… When you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us. The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamaphobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people. That is intellectually ridiculous.

Ben Affleck: Are the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that so you can say…

Harris: I’m actually well educated on this topic.

Affleck: I’m asking you… you’re saying that Islamaphobia is not a real thing, that if you’re critical of something.

Bill Maher: It’s not a real thing when we do it.

Harris: I’m not denying that certain people are bigoted against Muslims as people…

Affleck: It’s gross, it’s racist. It’s like saying “you shifty Jew”

Maher: You’re not listening to what we’re saying.

Affleck: You guys are saying ‘if you want to be liberals believe in liberal principles like freedom of speech like we are endowed by our forefathers to inalienable rights like all men are created equal.’

Harris: We have to be able to criticize bad ideas. Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas.

Affleck: That’s an ugly thing to say.

Nicholas Kristof: The picture you’re painting is to some extent true, but it’s hugely incomplete. It is certainly true that plenty of fanatics and jihadis are Muslim, but the people who are standing up to them Malalla, Mohammad Ali Adack in Iran…

Affleck: How about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches… and don’t do any of the things that you’re saying all Muslims… stereotyping.

Maher: A billion people you say, all those billion people don’t hold any of those… pernicious beliefs. That’s just not true Ben. You’re trying to say that’s all the problem is… these few bad apples. You’re saying that the idea that someone can be killed if they leave the Islamic religion is just a few bad apples?

Ben: The people who actually believe in an act that you murder someone is not the majority of Muslims at all.

Harris: [Even] conservative Muslims… hold views about homosexuals, about women, about human rights that are deeply troubling. These are not Islamics, they are not jihadists, but they also keep woman and homosexuals immiserated in these cultures and we have to empower the true reformers in the Muslim world to change it. Lying about the length between doctrine and behavior is not going to do that.

Affleck: What is your solution? To condemn Islam?… We’ve killed more Muslims than they’ve killed us by an awful lot. We’ve invaded more Muslim countries… and yet somehow we’re exempted from these things because they’re not really a reflection of what we believe in. We did it by accident… that’s why we invaded Iraq. [To Harris] Your argument is like “you know, black people, you know they [inaudible]”

Maher: It’s based on facts. I can show you a Pew poll of Egyptians. They are not outliers in the Muslim world that say that 90% of them believe death is the appropriate response to leaving the religion.

Affleck: [That’s like saying] “Ted Bundy did this. Goddamn these gays, they’re all trying to eat each other.”

Harris: It’s not [condemning] people, it’s ideas.

[From video of Real Time via E!]

I think that Harris made some valid arguments about criticizing the treatment of women and gay people under Islam and that Affleck mischaracterized those points. Then Maher took it too far and kind of proved Affleck’s point. It’s likely that they all decided ahead of time what stance they were going to take and that Affleck wasn’t directly responding to Harris, but to an overall theme that he was given backstage.

Affleck did make some decent arguments too, especially toward the end, although it came across as somewhat knee jerk to me. I don’t think it’s fair to lump all Muslims together based on the horrific acts of some extremists, just as it’s not fair to equate all Christians with radical cultists. I don’t think Harris was doing that, I think he was saying that we need to look at Islamic doctrine, call it what it is and foster more tolerant ideas, but again the same case could be made for Christianity. It’s hard to have a reasoned discussion about these issues when the stakes are so high and innocent people are being killed.

Also, Affleck looked really hungover to me.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner leave Tavern

Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner Visit The Farmer's Market

Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner Visit The Farmer's Market

These are photos of Affleck out with Jennifer Garner on Sunday in Brentwood. Beefy. He’s also shown at the NY Film Festival on 9-26. Credit: FameFlynet and

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233 Responses to “Ben Affleck’s debate on Bill Maher: ‘We’ve killed more Muslims by an awful lot’”

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  1. guest says:

    Ben told the truth!

    • mkyarwood says:

      The Crusades. Apparently they don’t end.

      • wolfpup says:

        Perhaps the jihadists are using their religion as an impetus and method for turning back the colonizers (Israel, and NATO & the US), who had annexed their land, that was peopled with Palestinians, and then provided the occupiers of the land (Israel), with all the weaponry (and atomic bomb) because of a stake in the oil.

        I noticed that Israel is about 1/3 of the way around the globe (the continents being Europe, US and Israel); that creates the possibility of long range missiles hitting land anywhere in the world. This could be a big reason for wanting a settlement there. .

        It’s so easy for sociopaths to hide their intentions behind a love for the Bible, and the Jews, and Jesus; because that gets almost everyone on board. I *love* my country, but look what colonizers have done: slavery, the American Indian, and untold unrest in the countries invaded. There has always been the idea of superiority and entitlement, masking what they were doing, even from themselves.

      • Dolce crema says:

        Wolfpup, if you think Israel should give back Palestine , should us and canada be given back too? What is the necessary age of a state to not have to give it back to a previous owner ?

      • Luisa says:

        “Perhaps the jihadists are using their religion as an impetus and method for turning back the colonizers (Israel, and NATO & the US), who had annexed their land, that was peopled with Palestinians, and then provided the occupiers of the land (Israel), with all the weaponry (and atomic bomb) because of a stake in the oil.”

        So following this “logic,” beheadings of innocent children and aid workers are justified?

        Does that brush stroke all Muslims? Of course not; however, I, like Maher, find it utterly bizarre that people like Affleck and some here are completely happy to bash Christians for not wanting gay marriage when Islamic countries would kill those very people — oops! That’s “racist!” Nevermind, Ben, that Islam isn’t a race.

        I am a liberal. I am a feminist, and these people are vile, no matter who they are, and why other women would hold this religion up as sacred when it makes those lunatic Duggars look positively progressive is a logical fallacy.

        Lastly, it is disgusting that anyone would try to justify the monstrous acts jihadists do by proclaiming that America or the UK brought this on themselves with their “colonization. ” Tell that to the Yazidi families who watched their little girls raped and beheaded. Disgusting that anyone would ever justify this in a feeble attempt to sound enlightened.

      • wolfpup says:

        I am not trying to justify the slaughter of innocents. I also do not believe that two wrongs make a right. Also, I believe that these men turned sociopath, were first innocent, and had experiences and ideas in the same manner as we. It is those beings that we must understand. Violence fails.

      • deehunny says:

        ITA @Luisa. I know that your stance won’t be popular on this site but I’m glad you took the time to say it.

    • QQ says:

      No Lies told by Ben…I’m gonna have to begrudginly give him all the points cause talk/coverage of Islam in our media along with this Ebola “and the plight of the white aid workers we plan on curing anyways vs those people that should be sealed off in “Africa” coverage IS more than vaguely Ignorant xenophobic full of all the dog whistles and devoid of any nuance…sh!t just this week cnn trolled the eff out of Reza Aslan after they had him there as a religious scholar..CNN not even Fox News, The true Pillar of Fairness and Balance and Unhysterical Basics

      • Renee says:

        YAAAASSS. You are speaking the truth.

      • Lola says:

        @QQ: You read my mind, I was also going to mention Reza Aslan.
        I was just watching The Young Turks on youtube to keep up with the convo.
        I think Ben did good. I don’t like Bill M. I have always seen him as a bully, imo, if you don’t agree with him, you are wrong.

      • Danskins says:

        +1 agree w/ Ben

    • shayne says:

      Agree with Ben. They always pick 1 group to pin as the “BAD GUY”.

    • delorb says:

      I’m going to side with Ben on this one as well. We have no idea how many people we have killed with drone strikes, but I think its more than the number of people who died on 9-11. As for how they treat women and gays, there are plenty of christians who feel the same way about women and gays.

  2. Kiddo says:

    The more Muslims we kill, the more WE create extremists.

    • Kitten says:

      I wish I could watch the clip because I’m not sure that I’m getting the whole conversation just from the transcript.

      I thought he was holding a pizza there for a second, but it’s just some tomatoes. Lame.

    • Luca26 says:

      EXACTLY Kiddo!

    • maybeiamcrazy says:

      This!! The fact is interfering of USA never really helped.

      • Kiddo says:

        It does help: Haliburton, the war machine, contractors, military ammunition, guns and gear manufacturers, etc. It’s interesting how the country just went through a huge critique of the militarization of police forces (equipment not being used by the military), following the Ferguson debacle, and here we are ramping-up the terrorism scare scale again.

      • maybeiamcrazy says:

        I will admit i don’t know much about Haliburton although i have read some articles about it. What i mean is, let’s say USA attacked ISIS and stopped(!) the terror. Then what? There will be another one. USA or any other European counry cannot bring permanent peace to Middle East. Muslims, themselves, have to stand up for it.

      • LK says:

        Agreed with @maybeiamcrazy. Speaking as a Muslim from a multicultural, multiracial, mostly conservative muslims country; we have always known that the USA is always trying to meddle in things that need no meddling, and is always trying to justify her action by manipulating the mass media.i believe that terrorism is an agenda created by The States and their allies to create hate towards the Muslims- for reasons known only to them. Most people have no real knowledge of what Islam is, but continue to prejudice against us, blaming our wrongdoings in the name of our religion, not because we are just human beings and we are weak just like the rest of the world.

      • Kiddo says:

        Oil, guns, resources, land.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        “i believe that terrorism is an agenda created by The States and their allies to create hate towards the Muslims- for reasons known only to them. ”

        Are you *actually* serious? Explain 9/11 then, ISIS, Boko Haram… Unless of course you think it was all an “inside job” and we manufactured those terrorist acts to kill thousands of innocent people? It’s your attitude of blaming others for the actions of Muslims extremists that cause the world to judge your religion. Absolutely no accountability for the actions of even a small few “crazies” in your religion. You blame America for being attacked? Good Lord.. If 10 years ago a few random crazy Christians hijacked planes and used them as bombs to murder 3,000 people at their jobs you can bet that the majority of Americans would feel AWFUL and immediately rebuke those terrorists as un-American and fringe psychos. But instead, you see yourself as the victim and act like there is no problem with it…

        Take responsibility and enact change within your religion.

      • MCraw says:

        @jessesaysno you really think this war on Muslims started on 9/11?? I was here to witness it, and even I know that the US government had more to do with the “whys” of it happening than any religion. It goes way way back to the Cold War. We TRAINED Osama Bin Laden and his gang and continue to this day to give weapons to “terrorists” to do dirty work and disrupt the Middle East. We have the dirtiest hands with the best PR. And that’s been true for decades on this one topic. How we’ve destroyed the continent of Africa is a whole other ugly that goes back centuries. I’m an American and can acknowledge that we’ve been too ugly to play innocent in this world. It’s not a Muslim thing, it’s a human condition… and we have that too.

    • LAK says:

      I don’t agree with this. I think a vocal minority has hijacked Islam and are actively and successfully promoting this idea which extrapolates that ALL terrorists must be Muslim and or Muslims are natural terrorists.

      There are many Muslims who don’t agree nor are they willing to take up arms for the vocal minority and yet they are tarred with the same extreme brush as the vocal minority and usually because people voice these fearful sentiments that *they* might turn into terrorists.

      The same argument was never used for groups such as the IRA ie all Irish people are terrorists or potential terrorists – I lived through IRA bombings of mainland Britain, so it’s wrong to use it for Muslims as a collective.

      • Kiddo says:

        Lak, I never said all Muslims were extremists. My point was that the outrage over the killings by US forces doesn’t quell or tamp down extremism; it promotes it by deepening a sense of desperation and disenfranchisement.

        When you unilaterally declare war on one group and you kill innocents in the process, or as Maher is doing, declaring that group collectively as an enemy. Guess what? They will become your enemy.

      • SecretlySurfing says:

        ITA. It’s quite sad that a few radicals put a bad name to the majority who don’t believe in extremism.

      • LAK says:

        Kiddo : you’ve just said and I quote, ‘the more Muslims we kill, the more extremists WE create’. That’s a blanket pre-supposition that all Muslims are natural terrorists whose only response is to pick up arms.

        A vocal minority has hijacked Islam and your answer is exactly the successful doctrine they are selling.

      • Kiddo says:

        “That’s a blanket pre-supposition that all Muslims are natural terrorists whose only response is to pick up arms.”

        LAK, that’s not what I said at all. When the twin towers came down, there was a rallying cry from most Americans to wage an attack, (which I disagreed with, particularly the country selected). When you see innocents being killed, it outrages those affected. We don’t call ourselves terrorists, but damn straight we terrorized large groups of people with our war activities. Plus, I never said ALL Muslims were terrorists, but since we have been staying the course of the same actions over and over, the number of people joining the ranks of extremest organizations has increased. There is no denying that.

      • maybeiamcrazy says:

        @LAK It is not Muslim nature, it is human nature. If i saw foreign planes bombing my country and soldiers breaking into my house any other place i consider important or in this case holy, i would resent those people/countries which would make so much more easier to manipulate into being a terrorist. They think they need to militarise and protect their lands and beliefs because they are more scared than we are.

      • Sixer says:

        @LAK – I think Kiddo just meant that since intervention by “us” is currently in majority Muslim countries, it follows that the terrorists we’re creating are Muslim. I think she would have said the same had the countries involved been majority Sikh or Hindu or whatever. It’s a point about intervention she’s making, not about the um – how to put it? – inclination to terrorism by those whose countries are subject to intervention.

        Anyway, I agree with Ben.

        In the wake of the latest murder of a Briton, it’s been ineffably sad but ineffably heartening to see the outpouring of solidarity and grief by imams, in prayer sessions at mosques and in the Manchester community generally (all religions) where Mr Henning was clearly beloved (by people of all religions).

        Here in the UK, we have had open letters against ISIS from hundreds of imams and Muslim scholars, videos by imams against extremism, a joint statement issued by the Muslim Council of Britain and the Jewish Board of Deputies (the official admin bodies for the two religions here), loads of work by the Quilliam Foundation addressing radicalisation. The messages of peace and anti-extremism are everywhere. I find it quite infuriating that it’s all roundly ignored by the likes of Maher to serve an agenda that promotes fear and suspicion instead of understanding and the possibility of peace.

        It’s a nonsense to suggest that Islam is any different to any other religion – it has the potential for solace and good for the vast majority of its adherents and the potential for hijacking by dangerous lunatics. Just like all the other religions.

      • Kiddo says:

        @Sixer, yes, thank you for translating.

      • Nick says:

        Let’s get some facts the most prosecuted religious people are Christians , according the UN and other independent human rights groups.

        Christians have been practically wiped out from Muslim countries . Try to be a Christian in Pakistan , daily reports of christian girls getting raped walking home from school because of their faith, or Egypt, Iran, Iraq , Syria , Nigeria, Kenya , Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan or gulf states . You can’t even practice any other faith outside of the home in Saudi Arabia, imagine no other religion were allowed to be practiced in public or a house of worship built in Italy because that’ the capital Catholicism .

        No faith advocates for the death of people who convert, many Islamic nations you can be put death for leaving the Islamic faith, just last month the international community had to get involved when Sudanese court sentenced a pregnant wife to death for refusing to recant her Christian faith, or Iran right now their is a Iranian/ American Christen pastor held in jail for beaten , tortured supposedly trying to convert citizens.

        And really the crusades , how about the Islamic armies of the 7 th century .

        Funny how practicing Christianity is around 600 years older faith then Islam and Hebrew 1000 years older but all the lands were first Christians existed , practised for hundreds of years before Mohammed was even born are now all Islamic and Christianity is non existent in any form … the Byzantine Empire existed for 1000 of years and what was the first home of the Christianity as a state religion and the first church built , St Sofia tuned in a Mosque and invaded by Islamic armies and Christianity wiped out.

        In the last 25 years , millions of Muslims have immigrated to historically/ predominantly Christian lands, in Europe, North America , Australia, south and Central America .. And they’re allowed to practice their faith , built houses of worship , in some cities/ towns in Europe and north America there are more Mosques per square mile then churches , that can’t said of any where in the Islamic world .

        Where in the Islamic world is there a separation of church and state , or rights for sexual or religiously minorities, besides how women barely have any rights , to live , work , socialize interact like men or treated by the law as the same .

      • Leen says:

        Actually Nick, Atheists are the ones that are persecuted, from both Christians and Muslims. Not all, but they are abhorred by all extremists for some reason.

      • avale says:

        +1 Nick. They are criticizing ideas, not people. Read the Quran. It is in their doctrine to smite the necks of nonbelievers. Is it a surprise that the extremists behead? I’m with Mahar and the other guy on this one. What other religion (doctrine, not people) teaches that?

      • homegrrl says:

        It’s interesting how someone like Bill Maher could sound so ignorant, and yet he’s given a liberal platform. For me, liberalism is a combination of global awareness, compassion, and fact checking. LEt’s all be honest that every powerful nation has been vying for oil control, and to have a complete vilification of every human in the middle east makes it easy to collectively obliterate their culture. ISIS is an extreme group, and hopefully it isn’t a decoy to justify mass killings. Of course we want to undermine -any- extreme group regardless of religious affiliation, but Bill Maher sounded like a liberal Sarah Palin and I can’t abide ignorance in the media.

    • Kas says:

      Yes, they have no control over themselves, Kiddo.

      You wouldn’t teach a child this type of “logic”, yet here we are.

      • Kiddo says:

        You should say the same to our military. Who make the same mistakes over and over, yet here we are.

    • Senaber says:

      Truth. Blowback is no joke.

      • pak says:

        I am a Pakistani,the extent to which my country is lied upon is atrocious….even more so than iran and saudi arabia..i went to a catholic school,my best friend was a christian,she is now earning more than me actually much more,her whole family is well off,the whole christian community is well off..most of them are poor though but thats not becuase they are christian but because those who converted to Christianity were mostly poor to begin with vs those who converted to islam,but newer generations are doing better.
        there are some isolated cases..but in no way christians girls are raped….wt(F) IS that??where did you get it from???
        and the major culprits against minorirtes and even muslims; were taliban that took illegal control of the lands and they are being fought by our army,and like thousands of our soldiers are killed fighting them,,,,we are in huge debt due to it…and still get the hate…hate news media!!!!
        that also works for the argument that we are fighting the extremists…..we are the first line,that gets killed fighting them….

  3. Phenix says:

    I think he meant Jeffrey Dahmer, not Ted Bundy.

  4. Abbott says:

    Nicholas Kristof makes my sex parts tingle.

  5. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    My God is Grouchy Smurf – Mr G. Smurf will eradicate all religion and save humanity!

  6. Louise says:

    Saw Gone Girl last night. Ben and Rosamund are both very good in it. First half is ok but slow and second half full of plot holes and unbelievable. Rosamund has a great haircut.

  7. lewis says:

    He s such a try hard

  8. Hello Catty says:

    Hello Ben, looking GOOD. Purrrrrrrrr………

  9. Tristan says:

    Religions in general are something that belong in the dark ages. Islam in particular, is completely out of synch with the modern world, and the greatest threat to gender equality & peace. Islam is a doctrine that promotes discrimination & sexual harassment & repression. It is no coincidence that wherever there are muslim populations coexisting with others there is strife & problems. How can one expect a population where the women are covered from head to toe in a shroud to integrate with everyone else? In addition, islam is the only religion with interferes in every single aspect of the way one goes about one’s life. Rules that were invented 1400 years ago to control nomadic people living in a desert.

    • Jaderu says:

      Take out the sentence about women being covered from head to toe and you just described Christianity. You’re right about religions belonging in the dark ages. However, it scares me how often I hear hatred towards Islam, because I hear it often. I live in the Midwest and I’m not saying everyone in the MIdwest says it, but I often hear “all muslims are terrorists and need to die”. It makes no sense to me. Innocent people and families are threatened because of their religion.

      • Kitten says:


      • Brrrrr says:

        *Cough* You may want to check out 1 Corinthians 5 -7

        “But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.…”

        ALL major religions are built on patriarchy. The only difference is that Christians have shifted away from their own scripture and now actually believe that secular culture is based on Christian dogma. It isnt.

        So I’m agreeing with you but also correcting you re the policing of female clothing under Christian scripture.

      • Jaderu says:

        Very nice! I happily stand corrected.

      • Leen says:

        Brrr.. I’m glad someone pointed that out. Many of the societies are and were based on patriarchal values. The problem isn’t necessarily religion, but patriarchy which is obviously pervasive in other institutions and structures. Christianity, Judaism, Islam.. patriarchal values have shaped many religions.

      • Steph says:

        There is absolutely no comparison between modern day Christianity and Islam. Go live in Saudi Arabia,Qatar,Iran and see and experience sharia in practice. Islam promotes Sharia law. So would you consider Saudi Arabia,Qatar and Iran as countries practicing moderate Islam?

      • Leen says:

        Steph, I could make the exact argument for Christianity. Go live in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Central African Republic or Nigeria and see Christianity in practice. Would you consider these countries as countries practicing moderate Christianity?

      • Steph says:

        Leen,what are your examples of Christianity in Africa where the Christians are abusing the human rights of others. From what I have read recently,the Christians in Africa are being slaughtered,including nuns, by Islamic terrorists. The Christian population is a fraction of what it was.

      • Wren33 says:

        Exactly. I haven’t cracked open a Qur’an since a religious studies class about 15 years ago, but I don’t remember anything in there that was worse about women than the Bible. The problem with broadly practiced, geographically diverse, evangelical religions like Christianity and Islam, is it becomes almost pointless to argue about religion vs. culture. Sure, historically Christians have been located in Western countries that are now much more liberal, educated and wealthy, which makes the current practice of Christianity more liberal and tolerant (compared to the Middle Ages as opposed to compared to current secular society). The Muslims I know in the US are pretty liberal, and I’ve met Muslims from Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. who are very liberal. To me it has a lot more to do with growing up in a city vs. rural village and where/how you are raised as opposed to what the theology of the religion teaches.

      • Leen says:

        Steph, you just ignored my examples. Central African Republic, the Congo, southern Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea.

      • maybeiamcrazy says:

        @Steph Please! Let’s weep for Christians in Africa. Seriously Africa is the last place Christians should examplify for their sufferings from other people. There are very extremist Christian people in some countries in Africa but of course they are not demonsrated in media. And what about Turkey, Azarbaijan and some other countries for living moderate Islam? You cannot lump all the Muslim people in the same place.

      • boredbrit says:

        Jaderu, you’d be surprised that Judaism and Christianity have women who cover completely. I know someone who has a picture of their great grand mother wearing a full face veil for Easter service- she was an Irish Catholic.

    • Eleonor says:

      Well in Europe we had religion wars for centuries, Counter Reformation, Crusades against the Muslim, burned books, burned people and all the stuff.
      It’s not an easy subject, we could debate about the positive and negative sides of religion for years without a conclusion.
      Btw: I grew up in a catholic environment, but I am an atheist.
      I think religion is not something that belong to Dark Ages, but it is something personal, if not private, that should help people to live better, not to make them miserable.
      My mum, and my Grandma, are both catholics, and I can see how religion helped them through tough times in life.

      • original kay says:

        I like this answer. I don’t know enough about any religion to have an informed opinion.
        The “be like me” mentality is not held to religion though, it seems to me it’s just… people. people being intolerant of others. Religion just gives the arguments to them so they sound like they have a basis, a concrete reason and proof to back it, for their hatred, when in fact they’d hate anyway.
        Not everyone, obviously. I have also seen religion help, seen how that sense of family can be what someone needs.

    • Leen says:

      I guess you are basing your arguments on what you perceive Islam is (and no, Salafi teachings, which is the more extreme version of Islam, are not representative of Islam). Islam back in the day used to be a lot more progressive that people remember. It’s only in the last 100 years that the Wahabi schools popped up (extremist interpertation of Islam) that has overtaken the definition of Islam.
      Nowhere in the Quran says that women are suppose to be covered from head to toe. Islam was in fact revolutionary to women’s rights in 700 AD (women can inherit, participate in battles, and consent to marriage, also the practice of infanticide was banned).

      Anyway, I say this as an atheist who was raised in the Muslim religion. I’ve left Islam because I just dont believe in God anymore, but I don’t let my lack of belief clout my judgment. You better believe I have many criticisms for Islam, but I’m a bit tired of people having these broad judgments that is not rooted in Islam, which in turn shuts us ex-Muslims up about the real criticism of Islam.

      And please the whole ‘Islam is the mafia of religions’ as Maher says is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. My grandmother is the daughter of an Imam, and she knows me and my father are atheists and she doesn’t care that we are. I’ve never met someone who took objections to my lack of belief, despite the fact that I have been studying Islam for over 10 years.

    • tifzlan says:

      Islam does not “expect women to be covered head to toe in a shroud,” which i will assume that you are referring to the burqa or niqab. These are not compulsory clothing items in Islam. Aside from that, how else does Islam interfere with “every single aspect of the way one goes about one’s life?” Because i’m Muslim and i go about my days as normal as my Jewish roommates or Christian best friend.

    • maybeiamcrazy says:

      As if Christianity and Judaism were always so applicable to modern life.

      • PunkyMomma says:

        Thank you. As someone who was raised Roman Catholic, and now considers herself agnostic, I’m still stunned when I hear discussions by practicing Catholics in my family concerning adherence to archaic rules set in place 600 years ago. It’s their choice. It’s all I can do not to pass out copies of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. But I realize religion is a personal choice, so my trap is shut.

        BTW, no offense to anyone is intended. JMHO.

      • Snowangel says:

        I just wanted to add that my in-laws are devout catholics, and they have lists of companies that they deem “immoral”. They also have lists of food that should not be eaten – ever. I don’t know all the details of the “lists” but most software companies were on it, because they have promoted gay people to important positions. They have written letters to airlines when a movie that offended them was played on the plane, which is pretty much every time they fly. They have essentially made up their own religion, and then base their wierdness on the bible. Might I add, father-in-law has mental health issues. Only good thing is they go to church, but the priest does not allow them to have any other role in the church. They are really self-radicalized, and are active on the internet with others that hold their views.

    • Tapioca says:

      Ironically enough, during the dark ages it was the Islamic world that was preaching tolerance and the Middle East was a hotbed of culture and medical and scientific advancements. Indeed during the Christians crusades, when the Christians took a city they committed atrocities to make ISIS look like the Care Bears; when they finally went home with their tails between their legs it was because the Muslim leaders showed mercy and let them have their lives.

      Obviously Christianity has had a 600-year head start on Islam and got past its angry teenage phase and mellowed, whilst Islam is stuck in the middle of the former.

      • Steph says:

        We aren’t living in the dark ages and I wish the Islamic extremists would realize that glaring fact!

      • wolfpup says:

        Mormons go into their “holy” temples, and make promises to never divulge the teaching they receive there, by the use of “blood atonement”. They promise to have their throats slit, to be disemboweled, and other horrors, if they tell. This was actually carried out in their early pioneer days, being the Mormon Mountain Meadow massacre. The leader who carried out this punishment, was later excommunicated, but that doesn’t mean that those making the promises in strange conditions, wearing strange clothing, that was put on you in strange ways (!), does not have a huge effect on those experiencing it. It is a form of brainwashing, and very effective in making their members reluctant to go against authority.

        Mormon doctrine does change somewhat in response to the environment, like teachings of polygamy dropping away because they wanted to become a state (although they believe that it will exist in “heaven”); or in giving the black man the right to hold their priesthood in more recent years; or saying that we can all now drink Coke, when the Olympics came to Utah (even though it’s caffeinated like coffee or tea). Carrying on strange traditions do have a real effect on those to whom they are performed.

        I was a Mormon, my husband a mission president. I did everything they asked for many years. It looks goods, seems moral, has good family values, and is thus enabled to take away 10% of what its members earn in the form of tithing, which further sets them away from the form of independent thinking..

        Religion can stop independent thinking, in my opinion.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        Steph, TRUTH!

    • LAK says:

      The head to toe covering is a misinterpretation of what the Koran says.

      It recommends modest dressing. Just like the old testament. It doesn’t call for head to toe covering. That’s man’s interpretation and insistence.

      The head to toe covering came about because the founder lived amongst desert people whose traditional dress is head to toe covering to combat the extreme desert weather conditions. In that sense, men and women were covered. So every time I see a muslim woman covered up in chilly England, I wonder if they realise they are dressing for desert weather conditions and NOT anything written in the Koran.

      • wolfpup says:

        desert conditions…

      • Sarah123 says:

        The very first concept I was taught at the liberal seminary where I got my master’s degree: all religion is contextual. It arises and is shaped by the culture, geography and historical timeframe in which it exists. Hence the rules about women covering their heads, etc.

        Extremists and literalists the world over mess up the larger point of religion, which I believe is to form communities who support each other during birth and death, ask big questions, search for meaning, work for peace and justice, give thanks & grieve together, and appreciate the wonder and awe of being alive. And sing. There are many paths to the sacred. We f-it up when we say this is the only way.

        Some of the world’s most beautiful, peaceful poetry comes from two Sufi Muslims named Rumi and Hafiz. Rumi was in a same-sex relationship and wrote stunningly gorgeous love poems. There is beauty and brokenness in all religions, because they exist in our human experience – which has beauty and brokenness, greed and certainty, joy and sorrow.

    • Sixer says:

      Tristan – the ironic thing is that the ME countries destroyed in part or in full by Western intervention – Iraq, Libya, Syria – were the ones that gave most rights to women – in education, in employment, in public attire and all the rest of it. The regional powers with whom we are allied are the ones that give the least. I don’t say that to defend authoritarian regimes there or anywhere; just as a statement of fact.

      Islam is just like every other religion. Often a source of personal strength and fulfillment when practised in private, and just as often a tool to control the masses by those in power and/or a lunatic fringe.

    • ashley says:

      “Islam in particular, is completely out of synch with the modern world, and the greatest threat to gender equality & peace. Islam is a doctrine that promotes discrimination & sexual harassment & repression”

      Thank you @Tristan that was the WHOLE point of the conversation. Ben wasn’t wrong, Bill & Sam weren’t wrong, but that wasn’t what they were saying…Ben wasn’t listening

      • Sarah says:

        Really @ashley and @steph? The GREATEST threat to gender equality and peace? How many times have you read the Quran? And I don’t mean the excerpts you found on google, or what you heard on the news. I mean the actual, physical book. Did you reach your conclusions after a deep and thorough analysis of the religion?

        I’m a proud feminist and a practicing Muslim. Sure, there are things in my religion that need repair; every religion faces similar issues. However, what you are saying is simply not true. I would really like to know what you are basing your opinions on. Please share.

      • wolfpup says:

        I tried to make sense of the Koran, perhaps not as thoroughly as you, Sarah; but why do I feel fear, in of saying that it is nonsensical at times, and that the troubling parts of it are understood by it’s clerics, in very different ways. Why the fear? – A. Rushdie, perhaps?

        Why is the paper that the Koran is put upon, cited as the reason for the death of those who disrespect that paper, and what’s in it?

      • Sarah says:

        @wolfpup, I agree with you – parts of it don’t make sense. It’s a non-linear book and some verses don’t dovetail with the verses before them. Also, the Quran wasn’t codified until a few decades after Muhammad’s death. It is likely that what we read now is a result of decades of additions and subtractions. I know there are many who believe that the Quran is the written word of God and was never tampered with, but that’s not the case.

        While there are over a billion Muslims, not all (maybe most) of them do not speak Arabic and have to purely depend on translations of the Quran. Unfortunately, it is easy for someone with an agenda to publish an unauthentic translation. It is my understanding that Arabic is an especially difficult language to translate because one word can have multiple meanings. As a result, I have come across many translations of the Quran that are just rubbish. If anyone is truly interested in reading it for themselves, I would recommend the translation by Laleh Bakhtiar.

        I believe that god gave us a brain for a reason: to question what we read/see/hear, to think about it, to criticize it, and to accept or reject it. If s/he wanted us to sycophantically worship him/her, we probably would have been born with brontosaurus brains or no brains at all. So it is our job to question what we come across.

        As far as the fear goes, I have no fear about what I believe in and what I reject. I don’t know who A. Rushdie is. Did you mean Salman Rushdie? Yes, I agree what happened to him was terrible, but it wasn’t a fatwa passed by the “Muslim world.” There is no singular “Muslim world.” We are all different. I’m sure there are Muslims out there who will probably consider what I’ve just said blasphemous, there are Muslims out there who agree with me, and there are Muslims out there who don’t give a rat’s ass. C’est la vie. All I can do is speak for myself and tell anyone who listens what I think of my religion. Because, as far as I am concerned, the religion I follow is not the religion ISIS or Al Qaeda or the Taliban follow.

      • wolfpup says:

        Thank you, Sarah, what a great response.

    • reba says:

      The ironic thing is that all three “Abrahamic” religions are based on the exact same things. In fact, it is an historical fact that the prophet Mohammed hung around with the priests and the rabbis a great deal, listening to their teachings and conversation. It is not a wide leap to say that he pretty much derived Islam from what they were saying.
      Also, I don’t know anything about Ben Affleck or why he, as a movie celebrity, is in such a conversation. While I believe what he says is right on, if fairly inarticulate, I also think we need not to fan the flames of controversy. But there is a great deal (government, media) going against anyone with an even mind and any goodwill whatsoever for Muslims. Just for the record, I think the vast majority of Muslims, like the vast majority of the rest of us (except the Duggars and the Muslim equivalents), are just trying to be good people going about their daily lives. Not have to duck too many bombs. Be able to send your kids to school with a reasonable expectation they’ll get back home safe. Stuff like that.

  10. M says:

    Is it just me or does he look weird?

  11. Ollyholly says:

    I thought he was wonderful, makes me respect him more that he really has passion and thinks about these types of issues.

    My dad’s family are muslim, live in the middle east, and are the most tolerant, liberal, kind and loving people I have ever met. The people I know from back in the middle east are just as kind as many Christians are.

    What is important to remember is that just like there are extremists, they are the minority. They are the super crazy right wing evangelicals who protest at soldier’s funerals calling people “fags”, only they live in a society with less control and rule of law than the US has.

    The middle east is a good 200 years in terms of development behind the western world- they are going through the types of changes we went through during our own religious wars. Times of conservative religious attitudes tend to reflect the times we live in, and unfortuanately the middle east isn’t as advanced as the western world.

    But it is hateful to apply that to ALL muslims, or even the entire idea of the faith.

    • greenmonster says:

      Perfectly said @Ollyholly.

      I was appalled by the things said in this debate. The worst thing: “Islam is the motherload of bad ideas.” That just leaves me baffled.

      • tifzlan says:

        Yup! Completely forgetting plenty of Islamic contributions to science, math, philosophy, geography, medicine, literature… i could go on.

    • reba says:

      Beautifully said !!!

  12. JessSaysNo says:

    Religion can be a poison when in the hands of insecure zealots. It can also bring peace and hope to more rational folks. I agree with Bill Maher here, that we cant just continue to pardon the ideals of radical Islam as “culture.” Being virulently anti-women, anti-education, and anti-freedom of speech/religion/press isn’t culture, its oppression.

    I went to high school in the midst of 9/11 and no one was allowed to say that Muslims attacked us because of their religion and our religion/way of life. It was only because “they hate us for our freedom” or some other white-washed crap that is virtually meaningless. The truth is that MANY non-American Muslims believe in violence based enforcement of their rules. 78% of non-American Muslims believe the Mohammad cartoonist should be prosecuted! Are you serious?

    I’m not a fan of strongly religious folks in general but certainly not ones that that oppress women, homosexuals, etc etc and believe if you leave the religion or educate your daughters you are doing some sort of disservice to the world. That our women need to be covered from head-to-toe so as to not tempt GROWN MEN into sexual perversion (The Duggars wearing only skirts OUTRAGES people but Muslim women being forced to wear black robes covering their entire bodies in 100 degree heat is fine..ITS CULTURE!” I’m not saying Islam in its purest form is oppressive but the men who are in charge certainly are.

    • Leen says:

      Anti-Women and anti-education is not rooted in the Islam religion. In fact, education is considered the most important part of the Islam religion, as the first word in the Quran was written was ‘Read’. Muhammed was illiterate, and thus education and knowledge was regarded as one of the most important tenants of Islam.
      Anti-women. With the beginning of Islam, female infanticide was banned, women were allowed to inherit instead of ‘be inherited’ (this caused a riot in Medina back in 600 AD). Educating women was considered essential as they are the first point of contact for children and therefore an educated mother makes for an educated generation, bearing in mind this is the 7th century we are talking about.

      See this is why people say it is islamophobic, because most of the accusations aren’t even rooted in the Islamic doctrine.

      • tifzlan says:

        Hell yes, Leen.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        Banned female infanticide? Better give the Nobel peace prize in that case. How gracious of them…

      • hello says:

        If this is correct why do Muslim countries not follow the correct teachings. Unfortunately many do not study the Quran so we look to Muslims to show us their beliefs. And what I see in Middle East countries who practice this religion is exactly what Jess said. Women are frequently treated as second class citizens.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        I agree with ‘hello.’ How are we supposed to believe Muslim is the “religion of peace” when sooooo many Muslims do violent thing on a daily basis and treat women worse than goats? You want to represent your religion that way then that is how the rest of the world will see you. If you want to follow the “correct” version of Islam then maybe the world wouldn’t see the religion as ancient and brutally violent.

      • Leen says:

        JessSaysNo, female infanticide is still a problem. Look at China. I don’t see why you completely ignored my point and focused on that? Remember this is the 7th century. Let’s remember female infanticide was normalized up until the 18th century in the Western world (witch burnings anyone?).

        @hello, they do. But the Middle East is not a homogenous region. There are 22 countries and EVERY country is different. Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia are VASTLY different than Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Very different approaches to religion. For instance, in Tunisia birth control and abortion is state-funded, however, women in Saudi Arabia cannot even drive. Have you ever lived in the Middle East? I have for over 20 years and I can attest it is a very diverse place in terms of women’s rights.

      • Leen says:

        JessSaysNo, that argument can work for any kind of ideology and people. You say that you focus on what ‘Muslims’ or Middle Easterns do on a daily basis. Question, have you ever been or lived in the Middle East? If the information you get is what ISIS and Iraq do, then I’m sorry but that’s not the Middle East. I can make the exact same argument for Americans. I grew up seeing Americans constantly plunging themselves in wars, torturing inmates in Abu Ghraib, etc. It would be extremely wrong of me saying ‘Americans are all war-mongering maniacs’ because that’s the image that has been presented to me by the media.

        Some of my family members in the Middle East think that Americans are gun-obsessed maniacs who regularly go on shooting rampages. Ofcourse, it is wrong to portray Americans as such. Just as it is wrong to portray Muslims are sexist fanatics because ISIS stones women.

      • Nazmeen says:

        Islam is anything but anti-education. It is considered extremely important. Also good news is rarely shown – especially when it comes to Islam/Muslims, especially in this 24 hour rolling news culture. The worst muslims are also Wahabis (see Isis) – funded by Saudi Arabia one of the main arms buyers for Western nations and for some reason almost untouchable. Deal with Saudi and most ‘Islamic’ terrorism will end.

      • wolfpup says:

        What about Malala? What is she all about – education for women?

      • wolfpup says:

        Nazmeen: I am off to learn more about Saudi Arabia, and why you believe that they are untouchable, due to being major arms buyers. There is something going on, when the US cannot even pass effective gus laws because of the counter lobbying efforts of the NRA (National Rifle Association). There is something untouchable, and maybe this is it.

    • Adrien says:

      I can never agree with Bill Maher. He’s the left Bill O’ Reilley. Did he just say or imply Islam is anti-women? Oh the hypocrisy.

      • wolfpup says:

        Sometimes I think that the women of the world should get together and decide what to do about the men.

  13. MrsBPitt says:

    I watched Ben on this show and he seriously looked either hung over or on drugs, or as my son said, it looked like steroid rage! Everyone else was talking in normals voices trying to get their points across, Ben kept yelling (sometimes nutty things, Ted Bundy??? WTF???) Then when he wasn’t talking, he was rubbing his face, closing his eyes, like he wanted to go to sleep…It was extremely odd…

    • FingerBinger says:

      Ben was very aggressive and emotional. He actually made some interesting points ,but he made himself look bad because he couldn’t control himself.

    • Jedi says:

      The others at the table are used to controversial debates so they dont feel the need to yell to make a point. I dont agree with what Maher said (ugh i cant stand the guy- he gives atheists a bad name), but i think he was more controlled in his speech just because hes has more practice in this sort of round table format. Maybe the Batfleck isnt used to people challenging his ideas or positions so it flustered him.

    • FuzzyBritches says:

      I’ve seen him on the show before and he was always an excellent guest. This time kept shouting STFU! at the television. He wasn’t letting anyone else get a word in, cut people off, and acted like he thought he was the smartest guy in the room (that’s usually Bill Maher’s job). He acted like a petulant child when Maher and Harris kept coming back at him. Maher was his usual jerky self but I think Harris was actually trying to calmly explain his point. Methinks his recent successes and Oscar have completely gone to his head, what an egotistical jerk.

      • prayforthewild says:

        This exactly. Ben has been on the show a few times before and is actually interesting and he’s kind of smart. He’s usually amiable, I’ve never seen him act this way before. Watching him had me thinking he was on drugs. Weird and out of character for the way he usually is as a guest.

  14. Cait says:

    ” [Even] conservative Muslims… hold views about homosexuals, about women, about human rights that are deeply troubling.”
    You could switch the word Muslims with Christians and that sentence would still be true. It depends on the religion you grew up in – it’s much easier to see the flaws and hypocrisies in another religion than it is to recognize them in your own. I think Ben was making that point. And I think Harris had some good points but he lost me with that sentence above.

    • JessSaysNo says:

      Perhaps Christians don’t hold the best views on women but they are nowhere as insane as Islam. I’m not a Christian (or any religion at all) but normal every-day Christians are coming around to gay marriage, they encourage women’s education, women can do anything men can, they can drive and wear normal clothes, use birth control and even become pastors.

      Maybe Christianity 400 years ago compares to what Islam is now.

      • Leen says:

        Did you know that in 1950s, Tunisia legalized abortion and birth control? Did you know that Tunisia is 98% Muslim?
        Please don’t make broad judgments about Islam and Muslims. Also, US christians are not necessarily representative of the entire Christian religion. Remember, Christianity is used in other parts of the world to justify horrific acts (such as the torturing of Children in southern Nigeria).

      • JessSaysNo says:

        Who cares what Tunisia did 60 years ago?! You truly and honestly believe that stoning women to death for adultery is OK? You believe that if someone leaves Islam they should be put to death? You believe that women should be covered head to toe to cover their sinful bodies? You believe if a women is raped she should be beaten by her husband and brothers?

        Tell me this is OK to you…. really…?

      • maybeiamcrazy says:

        @Jess Any of the things you say are written in Quaran. Stoning to death is especially the weird one because there is not even an implication of it, it is actually in Old Testament.

      • Leen says:

        JessSaysNo, abortions and birth control is still state-funded in Tunisia.
        And no, where on earth did I say it’s okay to stone women for adultery?

        By the way, ironically, I am an ‘ex-Muslim’ living in the Middle East. Everyone in my community knows we are the atheist family. No one has attempted to stone us for leaving our religion. So again, where on earth do you get your claims from?

        No Muslim has so far approached me and told me I should be put to death for being an ‘apostate’. So whatever.

        PS. Ironically, if a woman is raped in my country, the rape is punishable by death, for the perpetrator. I am against capital punishment, but this has been ruled as part of Sharia law. You don’t hear that often, do you?

      • PunkyMomma says:

        @Jess. Until a woman is ordained a priest the the Catholic Church, they’re still in the Dark Ages. Oh, the Vatican will give concessions when it’s at risk of looking absurd, foolish and antiquated but much, much of the church doctrine is disturbingly misogynistic.

      • Cait says:

        @JessSaysNo – that’s the point “normal everyday Christians are coming around to gay marriage” and normal everyday Muslims aren’t going around stoning and killing people. There are fanatics in every religion who use their religion to justify horrific acts. This is true of Christianity in the modern world as much as it is any other religion. The moderate Christianity you are referring to is not the Christianity everyone experiences.

      • Sixer says:

        @Jess – what Leen is pointing out to you is that Tunisia, a majority Muslim country, is – and has been for a long time – well ahead of the US in terms of a woman’s rights over her own body. I’ll add into that the six majority Muslim countries who have elected female heads of state: Turkey, Pakistan, Senegal, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan. Again – before the US, a majority Christian country, has managed it.

        These things don’t make these countries any better or any worse than any majority Christian (or Sikh, Buddhist or Hindu or Jewish) majority countries. Most countries have areas to be proud of and areas where they can do better. But they are compelling evidence that you can’t paint a religion as homogenous or assume that a country will be automatically terrible because of the religion followed by most of the people who live in it.

      • wolfpup says:

        That is great information, Sixer. All those women, head of state!

        I’m surprised at the information posted here, that goes against all the simple, cartoonish, stereotypical ways in which Islam is presented has been presented to the west. It’s a religion, NOT an ethnicity! Am I correct?

    • LK says:

      So true.

    • Steph says:

      There is absolutely no comparison between Christians and Muslims. Christians do not violently impose their laws on people in today’s world and if they do they end up on death row,like the nutter that killed the abortion doctor in Kansas ten years ago.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        Agreed! There is simply no comparison in any rational universe.

      • Cait says:

        Christians where you live may not violently impose their laws on others but that does not represent the entire world. Where I live people do not end up on death row no matter what they do because the death penalty has been outlawed as unconstitutional. You are assuming that your experience of Christianity is the world’s experience of Christianity and therefore proving my original point.

      • We are all made of stars says:

        Um, did you seriously just say that Christianity doesnt violently impose its ideas on others? Did you sleep through eight years of Bush? Are you pitifully ignorant of witch killings and the like in Africa? Are you ready to give a pass to all the wackdoodles in America who kill doctors, gays, or who use coercive political tactics because they can? I think what you’re really doing is comparing the first world loonies to the second and third world loons and then attempting to claim that the difference is what religion they belong to. Sorry, but that’s just not true.

      • Leen says:

        We are all made stars. I’d also like to add to that list the massacres conducted by the Phalangists in Lebanon in 1980s against the Muslim Palestinians.

        People don’t seem to be paying much attention to the atrocities committed by Christians in Central African Republic either though.

      • Sixer says:

        @ Leen – or Congo, where both government and rebel – both Christian – forces are committing crimes that make ISIS look genteel.

      • Jedi says:

        How about Uganda with their horrific legislation for the dealth penalty for homosexuality that was signed just last February by the President – supported by extreme Christian views in the country and by American evangelists that are preaching there. I would say thats pretty comparable.

      • Sixer says:

        @ Jedi – Stephen Fry made a documentary about being gay and went to Uganda last year, just before that law was signed off. He had a huge argument with an evangelical priest about it and he interviewed the Ugandan minister of ethics who said, on camera, that child rape was natural and fine, provided it was a man raping a girl child. I’m sure the clip is on YouTube. There’s a nice Christian regime for you.

      • Jedi says:

        @ Sixer – i think i would punch my computer screen in rage if i watched a clip of that. so disgusting. not that shocking though considering how often that sort of vile behaviour is covered-up and excused, all around the world…

      • kibbles says:

        I knew someone from Uganda who described himself as Catholic and approved of the imprisonment (and even killing) of gays in his country. I attempted to debate this with him and a friend of his also from Africa and who is Christian. I sent them a clip of a news report on the homophobia which exists in Uganda and their reaction was pretty much, “oh well”. The Ugandan’s friend even said that the news report made her angry because it portrays Africans in a negative light. Well, no sh*t. The problem is that people never want to look within their own culture and religion to criticize the major problems that exist there, so they lash out and call anyone who does a racist. This is a horrible, horrible aspect of religion that needs to be eradicated from this earth.

    • Venus says:

      @Cait: “” [Even] conservative Muslims… hold views about homosexuals, about women, about human rights that are deeply troubling.”
      You could switch the word Muslims with Christians and that sentence would still be true.”

      And you could switch Muslims/Christians with Jews and that sentence would still be true, and you’d be called anti-Semitic. Fundamentalists of any religion use their interpretation of scripture to support behavior others find abhorrent. The vast majority of people who practice any religion are not fundamentalists. Good for Ben for calling this bullsh*t out for what it is.

      • wolfpup says:

        I’m curious. Muslims who have been present for a hundred years or more, in a non-muslim country; are their notions changed from what is written, to freedom for women and gays?

      • Venus says:

        @wolfpup: I’ve had Muslim friends whose families have been present for considerably less than 100 years in a non-Muslim country and they’ve supported women’s rights and gay rights. People are people — some are conservative and some aren’t. Holds true no matter what your religion, or country of residence.

    • Gretchen says:

      You have a very extreme and heterogenous view of Islam and Muslim countries. While I am not denying that these things exist, you have created a Straw man.

    • Isabelle says:

      That is the point Maher is trying to make, Christianity & Muslims are the same, minus Christians cutting off heads, violently forcing their religion on others, & nationally persecuting women (he has said this, not my opinion). Christians do evangelize and spread religion but its through ‘friendship’ evangelism, treat the people well, show them Christ etc… & they will supposedly flock to the religion. My opinion, somewhere along the way Christians decided violently forcing Christianity wasn’t the best way to win converts, so they stopped, and yes they did it at one time. Small bands of uneducated Muslims never did stop violently forcing it in certain segments. Think whats not being talked about is literacy rates, Christianity was a much darker & violent before most of the converts could read & interpret the Bible themselves. Maybe it’s the same for these small violent segments of Muslims, a lot of them can’t read & are uneducated?

      • JessSaysNo says:

        Yes, I agree. What people here cannot understand is that we are not saying the origins of Islam are awful monstrous ideas. We are saying that how it was translated or how it is being practiced in the middle east can get out of hand very easily. We are saying that the percentage of Muslims who support violence or accept it is way higher than other religious people. It just is.

        Christians do not behead people regularly in the name of Christianity. You simply don’t see groups of Christians rounding up and kidnapping girls from villages. Maybe you did hundreds of years ago, but like someone else mentioned, Christians *realized* that is too brutal and doesn’t work. Christians still try to evangelize to people but not through violence anymore, they have adapted.

        People here can talk about your anecdotes from living in the middle east and family members there *not* beheading gay family members. But they need to get real and look around, how can they explain away the atrocities that people commit in the name of Islam.

        If you dont think this represents Islam then say so, instead excusing it away because you don’t think America is all that great.

      • Leen says:

        That would have been correct if it was empirically true. See Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Central African Republic, southern Nigeria, South Sudan and other Christian majority countries and you will see how the regime uses Christianity to justify witch burnings, torture of children, capital punishment of homosexuals, justification of rape.

        If i took the violations they conducted on a ‘daily’ basis, then essentially I would be saying Christianity is evil.

        And JessSaysNo, I see the dig at ‘anecdotes’ from the Middle East. You know why people share their experience? Because you seem to rely on fox news to let you know how people live in the Middle East. If you have never been in the Middle East, then I suggest you refrain from making incorrect assumptions.

      • Sixer says:

        @JessSaysNo – As Leen says, there are plenty of Christians doing even worse things than beheadings in conflict zones Africa RIGHT NOW. A popular method of executing women is to shoot them with a rifle up the you-know-where. There are documented instances of women being forced to eat the flesh of their dead male relatives. Men are forced to simulate sex with holes in the ground lined with razor blades. Children are targeted for kidnap, then addicted to drugs and forced to beat one another to death, before being used as child soldiers. And it’s not as though this is only affecting a few people. Five million have been killed in Congo in the last 15 years. By Christians.

        What you need to ask is this: why does nobody tell us we need to bomb these criminals as we’re bombing criminals elsewhere? But perhaps more importantly: why does nobody even bother to tell us that this stuff is going on and, more importantly, being perpetrated by non-Muslims?

      • Isabelle says:

        @leen, yes you are correct about Christians persecuting Muslims in those countries…but that same literacy rate factors in for them. I did some literacy work in West Africa. Many of my female women students came into the class specifically to learn to read because they wanted to read the Bible or Koran, because they felt they had been mislead by those in religious power. An educated & literate community usually doesn’t allow religious groups to enforce religious laws through violence. Just like many Christians & non-Christians in America reject very conservative christianity because they can read the Bible & have the education to challenge those using it like a sword. Maher has his good points but he’s not addressing the underlying real issues. He addresses religion on a very surface level approach.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        @Leen What gives you the impression that I watch Fox News, except your own ignorance? I *am* the liberal that Maher and Harris talk about, the one who jumped to “Islamophobia” any time anyone was critical of women being covered head to toe, or confined to the house living with 4 other wives.

        Until I woke up and realized there is something to criticize and it is not black and white. There are shades of grey in everything, sorry to break the truth, Islam isnt perfectly practiced.

      • Sixer says:

        @Jess – Nobody is saying Islam is perfect. People are saying that Islam has its share of fanatics in the same way other religions do.

        You said: “Christians do not behead people regularly in the name of Christianity. You simply don’t see groups of Christians rounding up and kidnapping girls from villages.”

        But they do. They do behead people. They do kidnap girls. They do worse things. This is happening in Christian African countries RIGHT NOW. Do you feel this tarnishes Christians in America? In Britain? Should American and European Christians disavow their faith as dangerous and false because these things are happening in Africa? Should they, as you say, “get real and look around, how can they explain away the atrocities that people commit in the name of” Christianity?

      • BlueeJay says:

        Sixer – you say that Christians currently kidnapping girls and selling them into slavery, as well as beheading people on a regular basis? Please give links. I have never heard this on the news and if it is true Christians all needs to rise up against this. I am really interested in seeing these news clips. Thanks in advance.

      • JessSaysNo says:

        Yeah Sixer, I’d be curious to see what you are talking about as well. Thanks!

      • Isabelle says:

        @blueejay Central African Republic is an example of Christians committing ethnic & religious cleansing.

      • Leen says:

        @Sixer, Thank you.
        @JessSaysNo, the problem is I am the liberal atheist that Middle Eastern countries needs yet the mainstream atheist liberal movement completely ignores, and even makes our job even harder.
        I’ve studied Islam for 12 years, there is a lot of criticism I can levy, but the problem is with people with Maher and Harris is these are the same people who go ‘oh poor women being oppressed by the evil evil Muslims’ yet in the same breath go ahead making sexist comments and trivalize domestic violence. There are bigger problems facing Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is NOT Islam. It is patriarchy, poverty, infectious diseases, decades of colonialism and ignorance, which the elite have no problem using religion to offer some sanctuary. Attacking Islam because of ‘ISIS, or Al-Qaeda or whatever’ is just a useless conversation. It’s not a huge surprise that both Christians and Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa *use* religion to justify horrific abuses and attacks. For instance, FGM is a huge problem in eastern Africa. For instance, in Niger, 55% of Christian girls are subjected to FGM compared to 2% of the Muslim girls. However take Sudan and 88% of Muslim girls are subjected to it (this can be found on UNICEF). My point is religion in this case is irrelevant.

        As for links about the Christian atrocities, here are some,

        DRC, Uganda's_Resistance_Army
        Lord’s Resistance Army REGULARLY uses christianity to justify the use of child soldiers and all the other atrocities. There is a lot of information if you just put christians uganda, drc, car.
        Sad that it is not recieving much attention, but then again sub-Saharan Africa isn’t strategic enough so not a lot of people pay attention to it, sadly.

      • wolfpup says:

        I think that Christians and Muslims have used their faith, as cover and justification for atrocity. I believe that many war criminals do not believe in a god; or at least in anything that is worthy of being called a god. It seems as hateful, blood thirsty men do not see any other options, as viable. A lot of emotion can be worked up in the name of religion, a lot of useful emotion for conversion. It’s a smoke screen! The players in this drama do not want you to see their dirty hands.

        That said, there are refugees who have moved here from the Congo. They seem shell-shocked, staring off into the distance, unable to be present, bringing themselves back into the moment to greet you, yet still lost. Someone posted why, above thread. I am stunned by these revelations. Language is the barrier now.

      • Sixer says:

        Sorry to be late replying! As Leen says, I’m not trying to whitewash Islam. Nor to demonise Christianity. Just to point out that both have their fanatics doing evil while the majority of both are peaceful, “normal” people. And that the news we are bombarded with every day is selective – giving us an inaccurate picture of what is really going on in the world.

        Here’s some info on the LRA, one of the worst African fundie Christian militias. Crimes easily as bad as those by ISIS.'s_Resistance_Army

        Here are a couple of articles about American Christian evangelists whipping up gay hatred in Uganda and helping to create the environment in which the capital law was passed:

        I would also recommend searching out the Witness documentary about South Sudan produced by Michael Mann, Stephen Fry’s documentary on Uganda, Out There, and checking out the websites of the main child soldier charities.

  15. Bee says:

    Affleck is waaaaaay out of his intellectual league trying to counter Harris. I know actors are people with thoughts too, but I hate when they come on a show or to an interview and start preaching their own ideas; I have an extremely difficult time putting that to the back of my mind when I see them in a movie to only focus on the character. So now if I see Gone Girl, whenever Ben comes on screen my only thought will be, that’s the idiot who thought he was smarter than Sam Harris.

    Actors being themselves is great for gossip but to me, it ruins their work.

    • Observer says:

      Eh, what? Ben made some great points…and how did he “preach” his own ideas?

      • Steph says:

        Ben went off into an emotional tangent. Maher and Harris were correct.

      • Observer says:

        Raising your voice when you are constantly being interrupted (+ his mic sound seeming lower than everyone elses) does not make you emotional. I would be annoyed too if I were Ben, especially when people like Maher make offensive generalisations about millions of people…Ben was right. We would not tolerate that kind of blanket assumptions about Christians or Jews.

      • wolfpup says:

        Ben interrupted over and over and over. How can one thoughtfully disagree, unless one has heard the entire idea of another?

        Very poor skills, Ben.

  16. EEV says:

    I’ve got to agree with Ben on this one. Islam – just like Christianity and Judaism (and more I’m not listing here) – are composed of many sects, each which interpret the Qu’ran, Bible, and Torah in their own respective ways. To lump all of Islam together is doing it a huge disservice. That’s not to say *some* don’t practice what Maher and Harris were outlining, but it certainly doesn’t mean ALL of them do – just like not all Jewish folk dress like the Hasidim, nor all Christians wear ankle-length skirts (if we’re just considering the clothing slant, for example).

    I married a Muslim man, and his family follows one of the more (or most) liberal sects of Islam – i.e. the women don’t wear veils, homosexuality is accepted, etc. I know it pains them to hear, “All of Islam does this, that, and the other” when it’s clearly not something to which they subscribe.

    I think it’s sometimes difficult for people to accept that most things exist on a continuum.

    • hmmm says:

      Well said!

    • wolfpup says:

      When a hooded man is carving the head off another human being, while telling the western world that this act, is in vengeance for Allah, it’s very easy for westerners to believe them!

      The whole thing is a charade. Their motives are not religious, they are wholly secular. They want their stuff, their women, and their oil regulated by themselves. Who’s stuff is whom’s, is what they are fighting about.

  17. GingerCrunch says:

    CB, you may be right about everyone playing their part on Maher, but holy sh*t, the gravitas Affleck has to even try and discuss religion with a brilliant mind like Sam Harris! What a tool. College drop-out tool.

    • We are all made of stars says:

      Oh please. Harris didnt complete his PhD until he was in his early forties and quite frankly, it shows in his writings that he’s only had the thing for a couple of years. His arguments are so poorly crafted and full of straw men that a kid in freshman philosophy could dismantle them in fifteen minutes. Do you recall his assertions that we can always logically deduce that a terrorist is Muslim and that Malala Yousfazi is basically an idiot for her beliefs? Or his proclamation on his own website that he is more comfortable with peaceful religious chanting than hateful? What supremely intellectual observations. That Harris is the most moderate and thoughtful “New Atheist” is deplorable. We need to resurrect the old atheists like Carl Sagan, no capital letters needed.

      • PunkyMomma says:

        Oh to have had Salman Rushdie and (the late) Hitchens on that panel, along with (the late) Sagan.

    • Gretchen says:

      Oh no no no. Sam Harris is a vitriolic Islamophobe with diminished capacity for critical thinking, objectivity and compassion.

      Some examples if interested:

    • Anne tommy says:

      Cos the college graduates have made such a great job of sorting out the world ginger crunch…

  18. margie says:

    Does anyone know where I can get Jennifer Garner’s striped shirt she is wearing in these pics? I want it now.

  19. pnichols says:

    I don’t follow him much, but I’ve noticed almost every time he is “kissing” his significant other her is looking away, up, down, to the side. He did it with JLo too. That stuck with me for some reason.

  20. Addie says:

    Islam or Sharia Law? I think you could easily argue Sharia Law is totally incompatible with Democracy and other western values that embrace among other things equality of men and women as opposed to women being property. Culturally we are so far apart it is almost too hard to even go there mentally which underlines the question, why are we bothering them in their own countries. I would have to say the answer to that is oil and gas. It seems like the argument either went too far or not far enough.
    I would say that by western world standards, the way that women are treated under Sharia is basic violation of human rights. Is that why the US is over there? I ‘m not so sure. IN some ways they have made the situation much worse than it was.

    • wolfpup says:

      I’m glad that women are sharing from all across the world, so we can better see what the situation is. Some things can’t be found in books.

  21. mel says:

    I will never understand why Jennifer dresses the way she does….good lord….get a stylist! As for the rest of it….valid points on both sides…but its hard for me to take Ben seriously….he does not talk or present himself in an educated way at all.

    • jane16 says:

      She needs a stylist to go outside and go shopping or run errands? That’s what these pictures are showing–everyday stuff. She looks fine. She has a stylist for red carpet events and award shows.

  22. Lol says:

    I thought me made a lot of sense (although that may be because he has the same beliefs as I do on this issues). I’m not saying that Islam is not currently facing major issues, but so do the other major religions. The problem each religion has that the most vocal people are the radical minority. As Christians it is easy to vilify Islam, for example saying that they are behind, because they are following rules of law from 1400 year ago, well so do some Christians and Jews. That is not necessarily bad. What people often like to forget when they willify Islam is that for example Evangelasist burnt Quran, that radical Christians are picket fencing funerals of soldiers, and in the US in particular some states are about 2 laws away from forcing women to wear a burqa and never leave the house without a male relative. I believe the Vatican still tells it’s followers its wrong to use condoms, despite HIV et. al.
    So before you judge millions of people because of their religion, take a good hard look at yourself, your society and your history. Because those radicals now making “trouble” for us? We helped raised them. Christian countries colonized those areas, and then after they couldn’t get anymore out of it, they abandoned them. Western countries deliberately helped dictators stay in power because it was good for western countries. We reap what we sow

    • wolfpup says:

      Wasn’t it just recently that some paster was going to burn the Quran, but thought better of it when it became clear, to US gov’t officials, that doing so would endanger lives?

      I love the fact that we can have this dialogue, from around the globe.

  23. maybeiamcrazy says:

    As an atheist raised by an atheist family, no religion make sense to me. But one does not feel more nonsensical than the other too. I don’t think Islam is to blame, the lack of education and peaceful environment are. Maybe it is because i grew up in Cape Town where majority of Muslim minority was settled, i cannot generalise them. I went to school with Muslim kids and they and their family were always peaceful and respectful. The women weren’t forced to be submissive, they get on very well with other religions. So i really do believe that it is not a Islam problem but Middle East problem.

    • wolfpup says:

      Are muslims forced to be submissive to other viewpoints because they are in countries far from home? What do they continue to believe in new lands, and what are the consequences of having those beliefs (like jihad)? There does not seem to be any stability, with any one view of the meaning of Jihad, or in what environs that should occur.

  24. Gretchen says:

    I am so thankful that Celebitchy attracts so many cool commenters that are right-on when it comes to questioning and criticising racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc.

    This is a real hot-button topic for me and I am so glad there are so many people from different backgrounds willing to stand up against the negative stereotypes (and plain misconceptions) of Islam that are so prevalent today. That is not to say that Islam, or the way people practice it, is above criticism or beyond reproach, only that so often these discussion descend swiftly into ignorant, racist and orientalist rhetoric.

    As an aside, something that really p-sses me off is when non-muslim, particularly white western men, decry the treatment of “othered” women overseas and yet give zero sh*ts about the rights of women in their own countries. These same men who are happy to stand on their soapboxes denouncing Islam never use their public platforms to discuss, for example, rape culture, pay disparity, toxic conceptions of masculinity, domestic violence or the collapse of family planning services in the US. In that context, their criticisms always seem to me like an excuse to be racist and spout imperialist viewpoints rather than a genuine and sincere expression feminist allyship. Also: Sam Harris is a douche.

    • Leen says:

      Exactly Gretchen, this is what p*sses me off about the discourse of Islam. When you have white non-muslim men who find it their calling to ‘rescure’ the ‘othered’ women while at the same time not doing much to decry the pervasive rape culture in the Western society. I’m one of the ‘othered’ women, being a Middle Eastern woman, and thank you but I don’t need Sam Harris or Bill Maher speaking about the ‘plight of Middle Eastern women’.

      Especially because Bill Maher has in the past tweeted some sexist tweets that trivalizes domestic abuse.

      • Gretchen says:

        Word Leen. I’ll never forget Maher’s tweet that Hamas is like a “crazy woman trying to kill you. You can only hold her wrists for so long before you have to slap her”. And he’s the one that wants to champion women? Pulease. He just knocked himself out of any category of discourse that seeks to speak meaningfully about Islam, ME politics or women.

        These sorts of discussions have such a strong basis in white-centric paternalism, and conveniently ignore the devastating impact that hundreds of years of white colonialism and exploitation has had on the Middle East.

        I can’t even count the number of times some imperialist pundit or politician has threatened to (and does!) bomb x,y or z country back to the dark ages…if you want a culture to operate and evolve beyond the dark ages, STOP PUTTING THEM THERE. It’s pretty hard to develop any sort of inclusive social or educational systems when even your basic infrastructure has been bombed to hell.

      • Leen says:

        Exactly, not only has he trivalized the effects of war, but did he really need to use a domestic violence incident as a punchline?

        Many of these pundits keep advocating to ‘bomb’ all these countries and don’t even listen to the grievances and the needs of people who live under these circumstances. There’s this brilliant book Gretchen which I am sure you will enjoy called ‘Do Muslim Women Need Saving’ by Lila Abu Lughod. It just underlines what is so problematic about the way western regimes approach the ‘other’ and using ‘women’s rights’ to justify violence and war.

      • Gretchen says:

        It’s amazing isn’t it, how quickly their concern for Muslim women – or any women – gets thrown out the window once the bombs start dropping. It’s like “Hey, as long as you’re not being ‘oppressed’ by Islam, who cares if half your family are dead and you are homeless, stateless refugees with little to no access to safe housing, clean water, adequate food rations and are now much more vulnerable to rape and trafficking! C’est la guerre!”

        My brain throbs with the logical disconnect.

        On a lighter note, I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments, and thanks so much for the book recommendation! I’ll check it out 🙂

    • reba says:

      “I am so thankful that Celebitchy attracts so many cool commenters that are right-on when it comes to questioning and criticising racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc.

      This is a real hot-button topic for me and I am so glad there are so many people from different backgrounds willing to stand up against the negative stereotypes (and plain misconceptions) of Islam that are so prevalent today.”

      I’m with you, 100%.

  25. KA says:

    I respect Ben for his views and his need to ensure that all people of a certain sect are not brushed over in one stroke. Everyone within a subculture or religion are different and shouldn’t be held accountable because of extremists. That being said, Ben missed the point. His argument was very lazy and didn’t counter Harris’ points. In fact, he proved Harris right with his knee jerk “your racist” comment. Harris argued that some liberals believe that if they criticize Islam regarding their stance on women, homosexuals, and other archaic beliefs that they will be seen as intolerant. His argument is how can we call ourselves proponents of gay and women rights, believers in free speech and not criticize religions that impinge on that. Honestly, I believe every religion in one way or other infringe on our inalienable rights. There was a time when we used Christianity as a way to enslave people and keep them in chains. Millions of people were massacred in the name of Jesus Christ. We’ve been fighting Crusades for generations. This particular Crusade is more vicious because we aren’t fighting on horseback with swords. We are fighting with drones and engineering degrees.

    • kibbles says:

      I have huge problems with pretty much all the Abrahamic religions. They have all caused major strife throughout history as well as killed and oppressed millions if not billions of people. Many regions in the Middle East and Africa still give the modern world a glimpse of the dangers of religion when taken to the extreme by people who are not ready to enter into the 21st century. This is fact. Saying this does not make me a racist. Look at the treatment of women and gays in that part of the world – there are too many examples in too many countries to list.

      However, Harris has a point. In America, people who criticize Islam are labeled as racist and Islamaphobic. We (in the liberal community) can openly criticize evangelical Christianity as homophobic and misogynistic, but we have to tiptoe around these issues when discussing Islam as if these problems are just an accepted part of Islamic religion and culture. We have to call out all religions that promote intolerance and persecution of women, gays, and other minorities. This is not about respecting different beliefs, it’s about calling for justice and starting a dialogue to reform and modernize these religions in order to save lives.

      • maddelina says:

        Actually I think it comes down to the “have” and “have not” of the world. They just use religion as an excuse to get attention. I wonder if the majority of these ISIS aren’t men who grew up in refugee camps reading the Koran day after day after day being brainwashed by uneducated mullahs. They have a very narrow vision if any. Scary times indeed! James Clavell’s Whirlwind is an interesting read as well as Carmen Bin Laden and Nonie Darwish.

      • Gretchen says:

        If Americans are soooo concerned with the health, wellbeing and prosperity of women and marginalised groups in Muslim countries, why don’t they demand their government stop bombing, invading, occupying, arming and generally interfering with them?

        And yeah, saying this: “Many regions in the Middle East and Africa still give the modern world a glimpse of the dangers of religion when taken to the extreme by people who are not ready to enter into the 21st century” does make you sound kinda racist. WOW.

      • kibbles says:

        Gretchen: You are exactly what Harris was talking about. You call anyone who has any criticism of Islam or even certain regions in Africa and the Middle East racist. No. Africa and the Middle East are made up of many different ethnic groups including whites, blacks, and Arabs. I said the list of insane things happening there is too long to list on an entertainment blog. We are not at the United Nations. If we were, I’d list many horrors against women and gays currently going on in Africa and the Middle East including the persecution of gays in Uganda, the stoning of women in Syria and Sudan, the killing of Palestinians by Israelis, just to name the few of countless atrocities made in the name of RELIGION.

        Modern society isn’t perfect and there continues to be violence against gays and women in progressive nations, but at least this sort of behavior is intolerable and punishable by law. Also, I do not speak for Americans, I speak as someone who DOES care about women and marginalised groups all over the world, not just in Muslim countries. Just because the American government commits atrocities (that many Americans have protested against and currently disapprove of by a majority) doesn’t mean Americans don’t have the right to criticize other acts of inhumanity committed by other cultures and religions.

      • Gretchen says:

        I don’t know if you’ll see this Kibbles because I am a day late with the reply, I am out of the US timezones.

        Firstly, Sam Harris really is a raging Islamophobe, I provided links in a comment at the top of thread to demonstrate where I am coming from in regards to him. He is rabidly pro-zionist and a cheerleader of Alan Derschowitz, and as such everything he says I do pretty much deem racist garbage. Harris is the guy who said “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam.” So the idea that I am the sort of person he takes issue with is a compliment!

        Secondly, it is not the criticisms I find inherently racist, it is the way that discourse is conducted that pings my radar. Any discussions that use terms like ‘barbaric’, ‘dark ages’ or ‘backward’ in contrast to ‘modernity’ and ‘civilisation’ etc are deeply rooted in colonial discourse. I don’t see how these narratives are necessary or accurate. No matter how f-ed up a situation is within a community, they are not static. It should be enough to say ‘this is f-ed up’, without bringing in all of this othering language implying or even explicitly stating that the people involved are somehow less evolved.

        The main issues I took with your comment, which I quoted in my reply, was the seeming reduction of “Many regions in the Middle East and Africa” to a warning for all civilised folk, and the whole “people who are not ready to enter into the 21st century”. We are all in the 21st century, no matter how horrific a situation is, we are all a product of our times. As such, I see all these f-ed up situations in the world as very much part and parcel of the 21st century – and all of the actions that got us here – and not an aberration of it.

        All and any social injustices should be criticised and held up to the light and seen for what they are. I do not call everyone who has any criticism of Islam or regions in Africa and the Middle East, racist. I do however question the language that is used to do this because it is often a directly lifted from rhetoric that has been used for hundreds of years to justify and garner popular support for colonialism, oppression, the subjugation of peoples and the theft of, and profiteering from, their resources.

        Words have power, they have history, and I wish people would take that into account when they are framing their criticisms.

  26. Sara says:

    i agree with both. you can certainly critize religions, you must as they wield incredibly amounts of power over the world. atheists are a tiny minority. we need to critize barbaric traditions and world views, no matter what some old book says, be it the Quran or the Bible or other religious texts, they were written hundreds of years ago in a very different world and are mostly full of hatred against non believers and women.
    Ben is right though that you shouldnt generalize. it is stupid but it also alienates people. if i was a muslim and i was always put into the same as those murderes i’d stop listening and i’d not see myself responsible to speak out against it.

    bombing countries wont help though and lets not think that it happens for human rights. there are severe financial interests in it.
    also do you think if you kill someones family that they will start liking you? probably not.

    the problem is a few extremists make life hell for everyone living there, but if the west interferes it does not help at all. it basically goes like this: arm one group against the other and train them, they fight that gruop and then turn against the west, arm another group against them and train them, they bet them and turn against the west etc.
    what we need are new solutions to actually help people.

    it is also a problem in the USA . the military industrial complex needs war. thats also why poverty isnt taken care of. its a socio-economic draft system. send the poor to war so the rich get richer.
    also read about how many veterans are left on their own after the military. not even those who risked their lives get a little out of it. apart from a PTSD and little chance of finding a job.
    that makes me as a non american so angry, always talking big about christian values, about being such a great country, about being sooo patriotic, but as soon as another american citizens is in need of help there is no help from the so called patriots.

    • wolfpup says:

      Harriet Beecher Stowe, first penned the term, “po’ white trash”. She was referring to the whites who had no jobs in the south, because the black slaves were doing it all. It is these same po’ whites, that fought for plantation owners in the Civil War. I agree with you Sara, on the military industrial climate that persists (NRA); and can be considered the identity of those who send the poor to die for money.

      This is the point of George Orwell’s novel, “1984”; as well as the brainwashing (doublespeak, anyone?), that accompanies that process.

  27. lower-case deb says:

    “Annabelle was very close behind…”
    no truer words have ever been said. shouldn’t have watched that thing

  28. tricklady says:

    Uhmmmm Ben, Muslim is not a race. And I don’t think Ted Bundy was gay. Your not really Batman you know.

  29. Jenny says:

    Politics aside, I’m focusing on the gossip 🙂 I thought Ben came off as terrible. He was a characture of a politician at a debate where he’s out of his league. I like watching political debates on Maher and when they have republican and demacrats who know their stuff, it really interesting. But when they have people who argue points that weren’t even made and make stupid passive aggressor jabs after they’ve moved onto a new topic and seem to think louder is righter, it’s a snore. Plus Ben seemed to lose it a couple time with his eyes shut as if he was in a mental fog. It was weird how he went from jovial to manic. It didn’t seem passionate, but a get off my lawn rant. My boyfriend (who doesn’t follow deep gossip at all) nailed when he said, Affleck is on something. Or just coming down from something.

    • Isan says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more, I watched part of the show and it was cringeworthy to say the least, I couldn’t even listen to him.
      I think even though many agree with what he was saying, he made a fool of himself. He should prepare better in the future in order to stand his ground in these kind of debates. But to be fair, in this case it wouldn’t have made any real difference as the other speakers were very knowledgable and experienced.

  30. BlueeJay says:

    I think the problem lies in the fact that if anything is stated about Muslims it is considered as Islamophobic. For example if a Christian states that being gay is wrong comments will come in by the hundreds about how crazy these people are and they need to stop. How awful Christians are etc. Even other Christians will agree.

    However, if someone stated that Muslim’s were crazy for their beliefs about gays totally different reaction. Some would say that it is Islamophobic. Others would say that is not what the Quran says – you don’t understand. Others would say it is a cultural and we have to respect other cultures. The problem is that regardless of the religion people have to call out what is wrong with it just like we do with Christians. If we continue to be scared to call out Muslims for their treatment of women and gays then we condone what is being done and change will never happen.

    I am Christian and I admit that there are huge problems that we have to work through. However, Muslims never do that they just defend. Look at the religion and try to change it instead of defending it. Things in Christianity and Islam at the heart of it are wrong – Just plan wrong and we need to change that not defend it.

    • Asiyah says:

      Right, because we don’t hear bad things about Muslims EVERY DAY. And most Muslims just let it slide and keep on living their lives. Unless you’re Muslim or heavily involved in the Muslim community, have a couple of seats. You know nothing about what we defend or condemn.

    • Gretchen says:

      “I am Christian and I admit that there are huge problems that we have to work through. However, Muslims never do that they just defend.”

      While I completely agree that no religion should be beyond criticism, the part I quoted above is incorrect. There are a number of Muslim organisations that work to fight bigotry in their own communities, they just don’t get screen time because they don’t fit the sensationalist media’s narrative of Muslims.

    • kibbles says:

      +1 I said something similar in my comment above.

    • Nymeria says:

      “I am Christian and I admit that there are huge problems that we have to work through. However, Muslims never do that they just defend. Look at the religion and try to change it instead of defending it”

      I wonder why the same argument is never extended when discussing Israel/Palestine and allegations of anti-Semitism. if one is to accuse Israel of war crimes, particularly in the Unites States, they are accused of being anti-Semitic. This in turn leaves no room for the discussion of war crimes and occupation by Israel in the name of a Jewish state.

      Now, many voices have risen against the occupation of Palestine, particularly from Jewish communities across the world who find Israel’s actions, in the name of Judaism, to be unrepresentative of their religion. In the same vein, it may be argued that this echoes Muslim voices who denounce actions by IS, Taliban, Qaeda, as un-Islamic, and as unrepresentative of Islam.

      Why are these tolerant, and substantial, Muslim voices unheeded in the media? Because they do not serve the interests of those who control the media.

  31. Asiyah says:

    I normally don’t comment on this topic because I ascribe to the following:

    “Unto you your religion, and unto me mine.” (Al Qur’an, 109:6)

    But I’d like to say that I am really sick and tired of this constant argument I hear DAILY that Muslims should be fighting extremists from within. You don’t think we’re doing that? How exactly can you explain that groups like Al Qaida, ISIS, and the Taliban have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims? If we weren’t standing up against them, would we be dying? I’m sorry if the mainstream media doesn’t cover how the majority of Muslims fight against extremism every day and condemn it. Of course not, that doesn’t make for good television. It isn’t juicy or salacious. There are khutbahs (religious sermons), lectures hosted by different organizations such as ICNYU and CAIR, as well as protests condemning these groups. We are speaking out in great numbers but when people like Bill Maher continue to paint everybody with that single brush no matter how many times we speak out against it those words will fall on deaf ears. People will hear whatever they want to hear.

    People have a right to their opinions and I’m not going to sit here and engage in debates over and over again. I’m not going to repeat ad nauseum how women are actually more respected in Islam than the media makes it out to be (but I won’t blame the media solely for that. Plenty of Muslim men help in that matter), how shariah is actually not this black-and-white system that allows for no mercy or justice, and how the Prophet Muhammad’s own family and progeny were persecuted and killed by the “Muslim” caliphs that used Islam to suit their own needs (the same guys involved in the Crusades) because AS USUAL people will be like “oh you’re so brainwashed.” Never mind that I did not grow up Muslim, my father is an Atheist, my mother is Agnostic, I converted at 23 and no, it wasn’t for a guy, and I actually learn and ask questions from learned people and not from the Osama Bin Ladens who act like they know when they don’t. Whatever your opinions are, I respect them, but don’t sit here and say us Muslims aren’t doing anything to combat extremism. We fight it every day in Muslim lands, in our homes, in our brains, and in our hearts.


    • BlueeJay says:

      Thanks for your post. However I didn’t mean extremism. I meant the heart of Islam like the heart of Christianity. For example what do Muslims believe about homosexuals? Not the extremists – the mainstream. From my reading they believe it is wrong. Just like some Christians. Christians are being called out for this all the time and rightly so. So should Muslims. And as I do you should call out your religion on this one.

      • Asiyah says:


      • Gretchen says:

        I think one of the differences here BlueeJay is that mainstream criticisms of homophobia and sexism etc in Christianity are coming from either within the Christian community and/or within a predominantly Christian culture. These calls out are good, and they are coming from people socialised in a similar/the same culture who understand the tenets of Christianity, and operate with the implicit understanding that not ALL of Christianity is bad.

        These mainstream criticisms of homophobia and sexism etc in Islam, however, are coming from people who have very little or no working knowledge of Islam, and frequently operate with the implicit understanding that ALL of Islam is bad. It is for Muslims, people who have an understanding of their own faith and culture to work on issues of bigotry in their communities. It cannot be imposed.

        I can imagine a lot of Christians would also become defensive if they were barraged with criticisms from people that had no knowledge of Christianity, had never been to a predominantly Christian country, demonised their prophet and consistently cherry-picked the worst examples of Christian history and practice.

        Defensiveness is also understandable when rhetoric about your religion and communities are consistently tainted with racism and people speak of Muslims as if they were all the same. Even your initial comment demonstrates this when you said that “Muslims never [work through problems in their faith and community].” That is such a blanket statement and is based purely on negative assumptions rather than fact. So, yeah, defensiveness is understandable when people who are ignorant on the topic attempt to define the entirety of your faith.

      • thedarklady says:

        I know hundreds of Muslims and only a handful hold anti-gay views (so about the same as people from other or non religious backgrounds). I also know a few gay practising muslims (who claim they have not been discriminated against by muslims). Most muslims are regular folks trying to get on with their lives – it doesn’t automatically make them sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or whatever. Many are pro-reform.

    • SuperStef says:

      Wow, thank you for posting and educating me on a subject I know little about. You’re very articulate and seem like a good person. I can appreciate that your dad was an Atheist and your mom was Agnostic, yet you chose to convert to Islam on your own accord. I respect that you clearly educated yourself on world religions and chose the one that best fit your ideologies; being raised an Atheist/Agnostic allows for an open mind to choose your own personal spirituality.

      My father was raised a strict Christian and my mother as a staunch Catholic. They chose to raise their kids as Atheists. Religion didn’t exist in our home. Today, as an adult, I am a Wicca with Buddhist tendencies. I love that I live in a country where I can choose my religion and practice whatever I wish (Canada). Like you, I believe all religious denominations should be respected – to each their own.

      Please post more here! 🙂

    • Ennie says:

      Maybe here someone will answer a question that I have had in my mind for a while…

      Maybe it is because of the government or the religion that women have to dress like that , using the veil over their heads, covering their bodies ad even their faces, even if they do not want to cover everything. I saw that video filmed in secret from Raqqa where a man was policing the girl because he “could see her face”, and she needed to cover herself better because their god loved covered women or something like that.
      I read the news in Spanish and I know there are controversies about how some girls or women choose and want to wear even burkas and demand respect for how they choose to cover themselves, they even get away with covering their faces but…
      when a dear friend was living in France, she visited Egypt, and she really had a bad, bad time because she got stranded from their group and the men in the airport were berating her and demanding to speak to “her man”, she was really scared because of how they treated her, a Mexican tourist.
      Why do some men do that? Also regarding the clothing? why are they so strict with the dress code if they (of course, women) do not want to adapt to the dress codes in the western countries?
      why do we have to adapt or be called eve vile names… and when they visit or live a different country they take sometimes extremist dress codes and demand their religious freedom?
      I am a woman and I love the culture, I wish there was no war, and I understand immigration, but I do not want anything to do with extremists from any country, religion or political party.

  32. SuperStef says:

    Affleck came across as a bit of douche here. He kept interrupting and seemed to jump to conclusions quickly without listening to what the others were saying. I see what he is trying to say, but it was like he was inserting his views into the wrong conversation.

    That said, is it just me or does Jennifer Garner have the worst style? She’s such a beautiful woman but her taste in clothes is consistently terrible.

  33. Kara says:

    Ben was waaaay out of his league here. I am cringing.

  34. Anotherdirtymartini says:

    Here’s my two cents on why Affleck and Clooney would not do well in politics – they’re too hot-headed. They don’t listen carefully. Perhaps it has to do with all the ass-kissing they’ve been shown during their careers? Both are intelligent yet seem incapable of remaining calm.

  35. Lola says:

    I went to college prior to 9/11, so religion courses could have changed, who knows. But, back then a religion professor told us in class that the Qu’ran had rights regarding women and children. Therefore, a lot of the comments that you hear, seem to come not from knowledge of the book, nor the people, nor their history, nor their cultures. It seems to come from media feed information.
    Having seen the interview, I have to say, to impose liberal views on people without learning about their culture, without learning about their history, without learning about them as people is as irresponsible to life and values as any extremist, whether he/she is an extremist about religion or their ideological views.

    • wolfpup says:

      In this thread I’ve heard several times that women in Islam, have rights in the present; what are they? Are they the same as in western countries?

      Does the same bullsh*t exist in Islam, concerning how “special” women are, and how our “roles” give us “special treatment”? What are the boundaries or the variants, in the playing field of men and women?

      • Lola says:

        Your second paragraph seems to be more along the lines of your views of men and women, not just with Islam but in general. (Or at least, that is what I got from reading it) Did not understand your last question at all, sorry.
        Now, going back to my original comment, I don’t remember word for word the class, sorry. Find interesting your comment, “in the present” … it was not so long ago that women in western countries could not vote, or I’m I wrong?
        Anyways, I did look up a web page where you could probably start from is called Islams Women. Now, I have no link to this webpage and truly believe that reading the Qu’ran (good translation) will probably answer more of your questions.
        Was looking at the interview (as a reaction to this one) that CNN did to Reza Aslan. And the ones that came after that one. Look at the interviews, they are on youtube. He by far knows more about his religion that I do.
        Take care.

      • Leen says:

        Lila Abu lughod’s stuff about women is a good place to start.

      • Lola says:

        @Leen: Thank you for the info. Reading a Time’s piece right now, pretty interesting.

  36. Dany says:

    I have a lesbian friend whose girlfriend for 3 years is a muslima (2nd generation Turk living in Germany). Her family and muslim community know it. No one tried to kill them or even said something negative.

    When one of my male friends from university had his coming out last year his catholic family disowned him. His father told him that god will give him aids as punishment…

    You can find idiots and hardliners in every religion and country. Thankfully the same goes for kind and open minded people.

  37. Jayna says:

    “It’s likely that they all decided ahead of time what stance they were going to take and that Affleck wasn’t directly responding to Harris, but to an overall theme that he was given backstage.”

    Not really. Ben is passioniate about his politics and would never agree ahead of time what stance he was taking. If you watch the clip, he was furious while listening to remarks he disagreed with. Smoke was practically coming out of his ears during parts of the discussion.

    • wolfpup says:

      It’s wonderful to be passionate about something, but if one wants to make a point, one does not use the same methods that one is denouncing; such as controlling the conversation *by force*.

      Good manners are useful, after all.

      • Jayna says:

        I’m not disagreeing. I was making a point to CB that it wasn’t some predetermined stance each person, especially Ben, on the panel discussed taking beforehand as was obvious if watched.

  38. Sarah says:

    I love Ben Affleck !

  39. allheavens says:


    No, Harris and Maher were not correct. All Muslims are not extremists or terrorists.

    People in the this country vote for conservative Christians that express extreme views every day but somehow it is only Islam that is dangerous. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and maybe 7% are engaged in terrorists activity and yet ALL Muslims are terrorists.

    The former general council for the RNC stated that all women who have abortions should be executed by hanging. If given the power he would.

    Rush Limbaugh stated that we should just kill everyone in Africa to stop the spread of Ebola. Limbaugh’s too much of a p-ssy to back up anything he says, but I bet some of his listeners would be more than happy to commit genocide.

    Christianity has committed many atrocities over the ages but somehow only Muslims are extremists.

    From pagans in 315 AD, the so-called heretics, witches, the Religious Wars, the genocide of Native Americans, the genocide of Jews in World War II, the Catholic terror in Vietnam, the Tutsis in Rwanda, and homosexuals in Uganda. Christianity as cut a bloody swath around the world.

    So if we are really going to tell the truth almost every religion has blood on its hands.

    • hmmm says:

      There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and maybe 7% are engaged in terrorists activity

      Where does that figure come from because that’s scary. It means there are over a hundred million Muslim terrorists out there.

  40. Veronica says:

    Do the theocratic nations in the Middle East have some pretty serious policy issues? Absolutely. Is religion the source of those problems? Doubtful. Symptomatic, more likely. If Islam was some fundamentally less moral in its treatment of women, then it would be the exception to the rule. But the reality is nearly every religion utilizes protocols to debase and undermine female agency, which tells me that these issues arise from a far more insidious source of oppression. As it is, you could make a fair argument that anybody who identifies Christian who tries to criticize Islam on those grounds without including themselves is fundamentally hypocritical. The Bible condones some godawful treatment of women and homosexuals, and modern day church politics aren’t much better. Keep in mind that the Catholic church still refuses to ordain women or condone abortion in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

    • Steph says:

      I believe that the differentiator is Sharia. In the Middle East,several Islamic countries base their government constitutions on Sharia Law. There are consequences if you are an infidel who does not abide by the government enforced Sharia Law.

      In the US and in most western cultures there is a separation of church and state and some people in the US want a Federal Law forbidding Sharia or any foreign law to usurp the US constitution. There is a thing called Sharia creep whereby the Muslim community is trying to change banking laws and estate laws to accommodate Sharia. I personally think that Sharia should not be allowed to flourish in the US. Once money and business enters the picture,you will have politicians being bought to accommodate the will of large Muslim communities, and then you will see a major culture shift that is anti-American. I live in MN and I have friends in Michigan and Sharia creep is becoming an issue.

      • wolfpup says:

        I believe the issue with sharia law would come into the domain of the Supreme Court before it was ever allowed to interfere with constitutional freedoms.

      • Lol says:

        a country that has “in god we trust” as official motto and printed on its banknotes does not have a separation of church and state.
        The US does not need sharia law to threaten the constitution, it does so fine on its own with their Christianity based decisions on women rights, abortion just as examples

  41. hmmm says:

    Ben showed outrage. That’s all. It doesn’t make for a good debate. He doesn’t sound terribly informed. Maher sure knows how to press those buttons.

  42. Georgianna says:

    His body is unreal.

  43. Yeah says:

    I have much respect for Ben Affleck now. After reading such hateful comments online about Muslims (not here), I was afraid that those views were what most Americans thought of Muslims, so it makes me happy to see a celebrity defending them and it makes me happy to see so many people here with educated and articulate posts. Peace and love to all.

  44. Mischa Jane says:

    I never thought I’d agree with Bill Maher on anything, but on this I do. But I do not come to this site to discuss politics, I come here to get away from politics and normally avoid any posts here to do with that subject, so that’s all I have to say about that, even though some of these comments have me biting my tongue.

  45. BlueeJay says:

    For me I have concerns because I don’t know what Muslims really believe and that makes me and others scared/worried. For example, do Muslims want Sharia law to be implemented in the USA? What is Sharia law? What do Muslims believe regarding homosexual relationships? What do Muslims believe regarding abortion? My understanding is that both abortion and homosexually is wrong. Do Muslims believe in multiple wives? Why do Muslims want women to cover their heads? Is it true that in Islam pre-martial sex is to be punished by public flogging? Do the Muslims who post here agree with that punishment? If you do do you believe that Muslims in the USA should be punished that way? Nobody really knows what you really believe. Please be honest – to those Muslims posting here – I know that Islam believes that floggings and stoning are justified for certain punishments. Do you agree? Muslims need to start taking out adds on TV letting people know what they really believe – it would probably do alot of good. I’m not kidding actually.

    • Ange says:

      I think if you read the other comments above you can see that none of the extreme stuff you’re talking about enters the discourse of your average moderate Muslim. And seeing some of the comments that are already on here about them would an ad campaign do any good or would it just be seen as defensiveness? At the moment the community can’t win and I feel really sorry for them for that.

      • BlueeJay says:

        I don’t agree. I am pretty sure that almost all Muslims are against abortion and homosexually. I also think that most Muslims agree with Sharia law. But you will notice that none reply. That is the problem I think. They truly need to make their fundamental beliefs known. Until they truly come out and let us know what they stand for there will be Islamophobia. We fear what we do not know. There is huge fear that Muslims want Sharia law in the states. Do they?

        As well, I think that Muslims get a lot of hate but Christians do as well. As the USA has moved from a Christian nation to a secular nation religion on a large scale has become hated. Just look at some of the posts regarding Christians. Both religions have a lot of work to do so that a secular nation sees them as beneficial in any way to society. I hope that Ben Affleck would stand up for Christians in the same way – but I don’t think he would.

      • Ange says:

        Blueejay you are, as we say in Australia, talking out your ar$e. We’ve been told repeatedly on this thread BY muslims that there are plenty out there who are liberal in their beliefs. They are literally telling you what you want to know and you refuse to believe them, yet demand they continue doing it. Are you familiar with the term ‘flogging a dead horse?’ Why on earth should they keep doing it if people like you just ignore what they tell you anyway?

        And I think a lot of people would have less problems with Christianity if its proponents stopped trying to legislate their religion into everyone’s lives. Something which, by the way, we have actual proof of rather than this ‘all muslims want Sharia law!’ nonsense.

    • hmmm says:

      All your questions are on point. Food for thought.I would love some answers as well.

      Overall, I can’t disagree with your take on this.

  46. Chris says:

    The American government claimed they left the Iraq military with the ability to defend their country. So why don’t the Iraqis have their own air force instead of having to rely on other countries to carry out airstrikes? Had the Iraqis been in a position to provide airstrikes straight away ISIS would’ve been stopped in their tracks a lot sooner.

  47. CJ Berk says:

    Ben Affleck is not too bright and seems to be unaware (or unconcerned) about Muslim treatment of women and gays and Christians and on and on. Burqas are fine with him? Women covered in black from head to toe-not allowed to drive, not allowed to vote, not allowed out of their homes, forced into medieval marriages or being stoned to death….AND we’re not allowed to express our disapproval? Wow. Bill Maher is right-Sam Harris is right. Yes well maybe I am an “Islamaphobe” but I’m proud to be one….if it means hating those who subjugate others and call it their religion.

  48. Olive says:

    Does anyone remember why people fled England?? Religious persecution. They believed in an extreme form of Christianity where women could not show skin. I’m American but have lived and traveled in many Muslim countries. Not all Muslims are extremists just as not all Christians burn the cross, hate gays and believe in abstinence. Americans have killed thousands of innocent Muslims. He may be just an actor but props to him for speaking the truth!