The ugly, ridiculous, and in this case, humourous side of Islamophobia is explored in US comedian Omar Regan’s latest flick called ‘American Sharia’, which will air in Cape Town this Friday. The film screening is being hosted by Islamic Relief South Africa.
American Sharia is a 2015 American buddy cop comedy-drama action film starring Omar Regan, fellow Muslim comedian Baba Ali and well known Hollywood actor Eric Roberts. The film is about rogue government officials using Islamophobia to maintain power while two Muslim police officers attempting to solve a case involving the disappearance of several Muslims.
Omar Regan is the director, producer and writer, and it is the first production under his company Halalywood Entertainment. In 2012, Regan wrote the story and it then took about two years to get the film project started. Before production for the film even began, Regan created a two-minute trailer in hope of selling the project to investors. In December 2013, the campaign for the film was launched, Regan used Kickstarter to generate funds for the film and the film earned $122,000 in donations in less than 40 days. The film cost £124,000 to make.
“I had some life experience which really affected me. In 2009, the government killed my father. He was Muslim and they said he wanted to establish Sharia in America. They shot him 20 times! He was the victim of Islamaphobia. He’s gone and there was no way to defend himself. Later, they put a small clip on the news confirming he really wasn’t a terrorist,” Regan told Asian World News in an interview in February 2015.
“I didn’t want to make a hate film in response to that, but instead to re-educate the public. I want to focus on changing the mindset of people- so they don’t automatically look and judge. There are over 1 billion Muslims worldwide, so why isit that everyone is painted with the same brush?”
The film has been billed as “the first ever Halal Comedy/Action feature film of its kind”. Regan and Ali play Muslim cops from completely opposite backgrounds, who band together to fight crime in Detroit and learn a few things about religion, culture and stereotypes along the way. The film aims to be humorous and respect the boundaries of Islam.
“American Sharia is a Hollywood motion picture that sets out to use comedy to reverse the prejudices held against Islam and help promote the religion in a more positive way. It’s an alternative form of entertainment, during a time where we are surrounded and exposited to increasing negativity and profanity,” says Regan.
Capetonians can see the premiere on Friday 24 March at Islamia auditorium at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from the Islamic Relief offices and all proceeds will go to the organisation’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s project.
VOC listeners can tune into an exclusive interview with Omar Regan on Drivetime at 17.10pm. VOC