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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

‘Traitor': A Movie with Two Kinds of Muslims

traitor_idol.jpgThanks to my husband’s parents who have come to live with us for several months (really, it is a good thing!), we were able to see a movie this weekend (which we haven’t done so in more than a year–since my third child was born last fall). He pushed for “Tropic Thunder,” but I won out with my choice: “Traitor” starring one of my favorite actors, Don Cheadle. “Traitor” intrigued me with its touted plot of a devout, “true” Muslim who by all accounts seems like a radical and a terrorist, but of course things are very different under the surface.
There are very few Muslim characters in the movies (or on television) that don’t fall into the stereotype of terrorist, radical, or extremist (insert your own adjective here). And as I search my brain through all the films and shows I’ve seen, Samir Horn (played by Cheadle) is perhaps the first character shown to be a devout, intelligent, practicing, Allah-loving, but NOT an extremist “lets wage a jihad on the infidels” kind of Muslim.


He prays five times a day, tries to live the principles of the Qur’an, quotes hadiths (verified sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) in the right context, and truly believes in the beauty of his faith–that it calls him and all Muslims to worship God and live in peace.
Horn learns his Muslim values from his dad, who died in a car bombing that he witnessed as a child. He joins his equally devout mother in the U.S. and eventually joins the CIA. But after couple of tours in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, it looks like Horn has joined the “other side” in waging a war against the U.S.
When FBI agents place Horn at the scene of numerous terrorist attacks, they zero in on finding him. But as they draw closer to Horn, who seems to be a key member of a terrorist cell plotting to blow up 30 buses during the Thanksgiving holidays in Middle America, plot twists reveal Horn’s true mission. It’s a thrilling story, but also a double-edged sword: While using Horn to represent the millions of devout Muslims who abhor terrorism and violence as un-Islamic, the film also ratchets up Islamophobia in the U.S. by several notches.
Sitting there, watching the movie with my husband, I felt a bit uncomfortable (I wear a hijab, so it was quite obvious that I was a Muslim). Would my fellow movie watchers look at me and think, “Wow, Muslims aren’t so different than any other religious group,” or would they think, “Muslims can seem as American as anyone, but they are all out to get us.”
Who knows? I was probably being paranoid. Double-edged swords aside, go see “Traitor”–if anything, you’ll see Cheadle at his best and you’ll see probably the first devout-but-not-a-terrorist Muslim character on the silver screen.
Don-Cheadle at LocateTV.com

  • Tony

    So, this movie is based on which fairy tale?
    I what “Islamic” country on Earth is there allowed, free and unfettered promotion of any other religion but Islam?

  • frgough

    Tony,
    Spot on. All I keep hearing from people like the blog author is how the west misunderstands Muslims and stereotypes them.
    Little message for the author: If the hero were quoting Hadith in their original context, he’d be arming up to kill Jews and Christians, or put them in Dhimmitude.
    American Islam is a mostly different animal than that practiced in the rest of the world, though there are plenty of religious muslim schools in America that are preaching hate.

  • Margolis

    Thanks for posting this. I haven’t seen the movie but will try to. Don Cheadle’s great. I’ve got Hotel Rwanda as another movie I’d love to see starring Cheadle.
    As for Tony and Frghough: you guys obviously don’t understand that Islam as a religion and civilization is as vast and diverse as Christianity is. Christians have used their religion to justify slavery, some sects incest and all kinds of misogyny and terrorism. This does not represent all Christianity or even the religion itself. This nuance is understood. However, when it comes to Islam, demagogues like yourselves preach prejudice. This is so anti-American and so unChristian.

  • Naheed Ali

    How these commentators love to hate!!! Do you know a single Muslim?

  • umm hafsa

    I saw the ad, looked interesting, thanks for sharing your impressions. It really is unusual to see an average Muslim character portrayed in a way where we can see things from his or her perspective. Sadly, most of the time Muslim characters are either carricatured or portrayed as one-dimensional villains. “Aliens in America” on CW was another good example of a sincere Muslim (Raja Musharraf, played by Adhir Kalyani) trying to fit in as a Pakistani foreign exchange student in the United States. It was cute and funny, I wonder if it will return this season? Hopefully I can get a sitter too and go see this movie! :)

  • krino

    TONY and FRGOUGH… LOL!!!
    …arming up to kill Jews and Christians…
    You are one funny dude.. Didn’t the Christians kill the Jews in the Holocaust? So does this mean I can say that quotes from the Bible should be talking about arming up to kill the Jews? You dumb schmuck.
    I’m not even Muslim.. But I hate ignorant schmucks like yourself and Tony who have probably never stepped outside of your piece of shht town w/population

  • mido

    i dont know why u guys hate us the muslims and arabs ?

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