By Shannon Green
By Shannon Green
Naif Al-Mutawa, originator of the Muslim-inspired superheroes of The 99 comic-book series, got a shout-out from President Obama last year for helping to foster international tolerance. Now those superheroes are the focus of a new documentary,Wham! Bam! Islam!, scheduled to air Oct. 13 on PBS.
Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti-born, American-educated psychologist, had a two-fold goal in 2004 when he created the now-highly popular comics: To give Muslim youth positive role models embodying Islamic values and to help reshape Western culture’s image of Muslims. The comic books have spawned a TV series and are distributed throughout the Middle East and also in South and East Asia, North Africa and parts of Europe.
STORY: ‘The 99’ aspires to teach Muslim principles
The idea started during a cab ride with his family, when his sister suggested that he should start writing for children again. Al-Mutawa began to consider Islam’s global image post-9/11. He then thought of the Muslim belief that Allah has 99 attributes, such as generosity and strength. By the time the cab had reached their destination, Al-Mutawa was on the path toward creating The 99, which features 99 superheroes from 99 different countries, each having a power coming from a gemstone inspired by the attributes of Allah.
Al-Mutawa expected resistance. “When a new thing goes into your body, it doesn’t matter if it’s good for you or bad for you, the white blood cells come in to attack it, and the same thing’s true in society,” he said. “Some people self-appoint themselves the white blood cells of society: Anything new, any new idea, they come in to destroy it.”
But he said he was dismayed to discover that a U.S. company would postpone broadcasting The 99 television animation series, after being the first market to purchase it. The show is scheduled to premiere across the Middle East, in Australia, and several other countries in early 2012. There is no date set for the series to be on-air in the USA.
Al-Mutawa contends that a small vocal minority against the show has been the reason for the delay. “People used us as a wedge against the President,” he said. SOURCE