Bollywood vs. Bin Laden: Why radical Islam fears pop culture


The recent terror attack on France's satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo,  which left 12 deadhas been a somber reminder of the differences between modern culture and radical Islamists. 

Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia sat down with Reason TV in 2011 and explained why modern pop culture is so feared by radical Islamists. 

Originally published May 2, 2011. Original text below:

Even before Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. soldiers, his brand of anti-modern, anti-pleasure Islam was under attack by Bollywood, India's pop culture juggernaut that boasts a global audience of 3 billion people.

As Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia explains, Bollywood movies and videos appeal to young men and women in Muslim and Arab countries because they dramatize the sorts of tensions between traditional and modern ways of living. "Who should decide who one should marry—is it the parents or is it the boy and girls themselves?" asks the Indian-born and raised Dalmia. "In the West, in Hollywood movies, it's not even an issue. But it's a huge issue in that part of the world and all of Bollywood movies deal with that one central question."

Dalmia also notes that Muslims are among the most popular—and sexually suggestive—performers in Bollywood productions. "When you have Muslims succeeding in Bollywood as Muslims, it makes them feel, well, we don't have to give up our religion in order to be modern," observes Dalmia. "That's very, very subversive…of Islamic demands and Islamic extremism….If you can have a good time in this world…and still be religious, why do you have to strap suicide bombs to your chest and blow yourself up?"

Approximately 4,30 minutes. Produced and edited by Hawk Jensen; camera by Paul Detrick.
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  1. it makes them feel, well, we don’t have to give up our religion in order to be modern

    Unfortunately, they do.

    1. Damn, I was hoping to see four-year-old comments in this section. Wanted to see if my grammar has improved at all since 2011.

      Did they finally figure out a way to repost without bringing the original comments along for the ride?

    2. No, they don’t. There were modern-leaning branches of Islam thriving all over the world at the beginning of the 20th Century. It took a century of ham-handed, multicultural, anti-colonialist twaddle to bring us to the present state. For much of the 20th century and all of the 21st so far the Western Intellectuals have punished moderate, modernist leaning Muslims for not living up the a Liberal ideal (that the Liberals themselves don’t bother to even TRY to live up to), while they rewarded Islamic Radicals for being “edgy”, “”authentic”, or some such bushwa.

      I’m not going to try sell the “Most Muslims are innocent” tripe here; the Islamic culture has very intolerant roots, and that has been encouraged by the Western Intellectual Twits until it drowns out anything else. It may well be that, at this point, the only thing we can do is scorch the earth and sew it with salt. But if we do ?. if we indeed do have to obliterate Islam it will be the fault of the Intellectual Left.

      And there is still some chance that wee won’t have to go that far. If Bollywood can push Islam in the other direction, then GREAT! Not only will we avoid becoming an Imperial Nation (which we would be bad at, and which would change us in ways we won’t like), but we can have the pleasure of listening to all the Western Intellectuals piss and moan about how cheese ball Bollywood is “corrupting” the third world.

      1. The fact that Islam was largely moribund and got revived and radicalized by the Muslim Brotherhood et al. is not the fault of the West.

        1. That we did not put a bullet in Yassar Arafat’s head as sonnas he made a nusiance of hmself is. That we did not make it emphatically clear that that kind of radicalism is unhealthy, because WE WILL MAKE IT SO, is.

          The west failed to defend civilization for a wide assortment of Liberal claptrap ideas. That is OUR fault.

    3. Nope. Ahmadis, Sufis, Ishmaeli, and other branches are pretty moderate. The problem really isn’t Islam as much as it is Arab-Afghan-Paki cultural norms.

      1. There were some “pretty moderate” revolutionaries in Russia in 1917. It didn’t work out well for them. Pointing to minority, often powerless and persecuted branches of Islam doesn’t help your case.

        1. Dumb, dumb comparison. Not remotely relevant. That was a revolution. Islam is not a momentary revolution. It’s an ongoing thing. My point still disproves yours, and nothing in your latest comment changes that.

          1. There has been a revolution in Islam. 100 years ago it was a globally irrelevant religion in insignificant backwaters. That changed with oil money, globalization, and the fundamentalist revival in Islam (similar to what’s happened in Christianity). And my analogy is also apt because the more fanatic/dedicated/ruthless factions in political and religious movements often take control, as they have in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

  2. What is this Charlie Hebdo that I keep hearing about?

      1. Could you be more specific? That doesn’t narrow it down much.

  3. Being laughed at is the worse type of insult to people who take themselves far to seriously. Islamists need others to take them seriously and since they have no sense of humor, mocking them really pushes their uncontrollable rage button to 11.

    1. I wonder if that would work with radical feminists?

      1. “I wonder if that would work with radical feminists?”

        This helpful introduction video apparently failed to amuse the “Social Justice Warrior” community, and they reacted (*as noted in the second link)…. poorly; there’s something of a ‘virtuous-cycle’ in the online-media-mockery industry, where you can make fun of Oversensitive Princesses, then again make fun of their hysterical over-reactions to being criticized….

        some people have created entire Youtube channels devoted to collecting the funniest examples of psychotic feminist meltdowns, and they consequently generate more views than any of the media ostensibly generated to appeal to ‘online feminists’.

        I dont know what to compare it to, other than the retards who make “Lets Play!”-videos? and end up making more money from viewcounts than the actual designers of said video-game.

      2. Say what you will about radical feminists, none of them have stormed into the American Spectator’s editorial offices and shot everyone. Yet.

  4. But the Islamic extremists will wipe out things they fear through violence.

    I hear that ISIS recently beheaded a street magician. I imagine there won’t be any street magicians in that region. If one of them executed a handful of Bollywood performers, then will Muslims keep watching Bollywood?

    I don’t think parts of the Muslim world are like East Germany or Cuba, where artists and students mobilize for more freedom when they were influenced by pop culture and other western ideas. And even if most Muslims resent dictatorship, they’re probably not interested in freedom in the sense of the word we use.

    1. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. There are many Iranians who would love for Iran to culturally modernize.

      1. Then they should have kept the Shah in power.

        When they ran him out, they decided on living in the stone age.

        1. Not exactly. It was a lot like Russia in 1917: a broadly-based revolution with many factions, some pro-Western and moderate, that soon got hijacked by the most ruthless faction.

          1. This is laughable. None of the groups were pro West unless you count pro USSR as pro west.

            1. I was thinking of people like Kerensky, and the Kadets. Not fire-breathing anti-Westerners, IIRC.

  5. Depressingly accurate.


    Week 10: The staff of Charlie Hebdo call an emergency editorial meeting. They discuss their publication’s future. ‘We aren’t in supermarkets. Students are banned from reading us. The hatred from the press is too much.’ Sorrow is expressed. Tears are shed. Later that evening, the editor of Charlie Hebdo appears on Newsnight, in sombre black polo neck and jacket, fitting the occasion, and apologises for any offence his magazine might have caused and then makes an important announcement. ‘Charlie is gone’, he says. ‘It isn’t coming back.’ Twitter celebrates with a new hashtag: #RIPCharlieLOL. The Guardian publishes a feature the following day headlined: ‘These Charlies aren’t laughing anymore.’

    At least some people in Britain acknowledge they’re living in an anti-speech police state.

    1. Man, Brendan O’Neill is on a roll.

      The unreal, unhinged nature of this elite preemption of mass Muslim-bashing has been thrown into sharp relief by the foul events in Paris over the past few days. The massacre of journalists by Islamists was followed today by a violent hostage-taking in a kosher shop in Port de Vincennes by a gunman reported to be part of the same small cell of Islamic extremists from which the Kouachi brothers, who shot up Charlie Hebdo, sprung. Why invade a kosher shop? Well, it’s very likely there will be Jews in there, and if there’s one thing Islamists love more than executing those who insult their prophet, it’s attacking Jews. The kosher-shop siege and hostage situation is now over, and while the information coming out of France is sketchy, Reuters says four of the hostages ? who may well have been Jews ? are dead. So the gulf between the fears of he multicultural elite and the reality on the ground in France is colossal. “Leave Muslims alone,” they plead as the news wires report that four kosher shoppers have been killed. Many European observers seem far more exercised about the possibility of Islamophobic violence than they are by the reality of anti-Semitic violence.


      1. If it makes you feel better most reason Libertarians are most worried that someone might think less of Muslims over this. The real danger is apparently that peope might make any conclusions about Muslims as a whole

        1. The real danger is apparently that peope might make any conclusions about Muslims as a whole

          Indeed collectivizing people into a massive totality because of their (extremely heterogeneous) religious beliefs would be very bad, and would probably lead to bad things especially in Europe. Typical piercing analysis from John.

          1. Did you see John’s comment yesterday that ‘who other than self-hating retards like Glenn Greenwald would have a problem if the French stomped their Muslim population?’

            John’s gone a bit off the deep end on this one.

            1. John is a crazy person. You must understand that. He sounds reasonable but he is actually schizo or something. Always keep that in mind.

              1. Says the crazed bomber.

                1. …what?

          2. The idea that Muslims are “extremely heterogeneous” in religious beliefs is a huge stretch. To be a Muslim, you have to believe that the Koran is the direct and final word of Allah. Sure, there can be some quibbling about interpretation, but not much. Certainly there’s only a small fraction of the heterogeneity possible with the Bible. And the Koran is, if you take it as the word of Allah, simply incompatible with modern, secular ideas of liberty.

            1. The Bible is also incompatible with modern, secular ideas of liberty and it The Bible is Christianity.

              Islam has lots of peaceful sects more or less compatible with modern secular society. Here in Calgary we got lots of Muslims especially Arabs and they are getting along here just fine.

              1. Modern Islam is unquestionably more prone to religiously motivated violence than other religions, though.

                You can say ‘well, Christianity is incompatible with a modern world’ but there are far fewer Christians in modern times who take their holy book as literally as many Muslims take theirs.

                I think most Muslims are non-violent, but you can’t deny that Islam has a greater tendency to result in violence than other religions.

                1. The only difference between Islam and Christianity is 700 years. Modern Christianity is tamed Islam is not nearly as far along the same path. That’s basically why Islam keeps producing violence.

                  1. The only difference between Islam and Christianity is 700 years.

                    That’s part of it, but no. The Bible is a collection of works written by a few dozen people, “inspired” by God, in a handful of different languages and cultures over hundreds of years. There’s a lot of room for interpretation.

                    The Koran was dictated by Allah, in the language Allah speaks (an archaic sort of Arabic). It’s the direct, perfect, and final word. Not much room for interpretation there, kiddo.

                    1. And yet both have produced just as much violence.

                      This is just piffle. Religions will be violent. BTW I am pretty sure there are a lot of Muslims that differ in their interpretation of the Koran so that puts your false Bible-Koran contrast in the ground.

                    2. And yet both have produced just as much violence.

                      No, they have not. Certainly not in the last 100+ years. And I hope you aren’t blaming the Crusades on Christians: those were defensive wars against Islamic aggression.

                  2. The only difference between Islam and Christianity is 700 years. Modern Christianity is tamed Islam is not nearly as far along the same path. That’s basically why Islam keeps producing violence.

                    I don’t agree with this. It’s almost a Marxist conception of history, the idea that there is an ‘endpoint’ towards which things move.

                    Islam has actually regressed. Islam has gotten worse and more violent over the last 60 years. It is true that there is nothing inherent to Islam that makes it more violent than other religions, and in 500 years maybe things will have changed. However, you can’t argue that ‘the only difference is 700 years’ when in the last century radical Islam has actually spread and gotten worse.

                    1. It is true that there is nothing inherent to Islam that makes it more violent than other religions

                      I disagree. Does the Bible contain God’s direct instructions to spread Christ’s word by the sword and kill unbelievers?

                    2. Does the Bible contain God’s direct instructions to spread Christ’s word by the sword and kill unbelievers?

                      Yes, but it doesn’t matter. Christians did that all the time ex The Crusades. It really doesn’t matter what the central holy text says all religions are violent and will forcibly or have sects that do so.

                    3. Christianity also regressed in the past, the biggest and initial example of that being the Constantine Shift.

                      The spread of radical Islam has a lot to do with the rise of retrograde Arab regimes, particularly Saudi Arabia, and the failure to destroy these regimes.

                    4. You keep dredging up the distant past in order to claim Christianity is “just as violent.” Stick to the last century and your argument falls apart. Christianity has changed. Islam had changed somewhat, also, up to about 100 years ago, but since then it has “gotten in touch with its roots” and become more violent and aggressive again. Saudi Arabia has a lot to do with it, but that doesn’t explain Iran, Syria, the suburbs of Paris, etc.

                      And if you are arguing that we should destroy the Saudis, you are arguing that we should destroy the guardians of Mecca and Medina. You might as well say that there’s nothing wrong with Catholicism, we just need to destroy Vatican City. Or there’s nothing wrong with Judaism, we just need to destroy Israel. All those are basically equivalent statements to most Muslims/Catholics/Jews, and contain a wee bit of contradiction.

              2. The Bible is also incompatible with modern, secular ideas of liberty and it The Bible is Christianity.

                Except it’s not. Hell, the only reason we have a modern secular society is because of Christianity. Jesus explicitly says there is a separation between Christianity and the state.

                Meanwhile, the whole point of Islam is for everyone in the world to be subjected or converted.

                Jesus was not a warlord. He didn’t conquer anyone. OTOH, Mohammed and his successors were. They spread Islam at the point of the sword.

                That’s not to say Christians didn’t use that same method after Jesus. They did. But it was not his intent.

                1. Except it’s not. Hell, the only reason we have a modern secular society is because of Christianity. Jesus explicitly says there is a separation between Christianity and the state.

                  Except for the somewhat minor fact that Christianity incorporates the Old Testament, which has a host of utter atrocities described approvingly. Modern Christians try to get around this by claiming that everything somehow changed when the New Testament was written, but this makes no sense.

                  First of all, why would things change when the New Testament was written? God is allegedly infallible, so the Old Testament must still apply since it’s impossible for God to change his mind. How can an all knowing God change his position on a subject? If you know everything, changing your mind is impossible and therefore the idea that the New Testament invalidates the Old is an absurdity.

                  Therefore, all the atrocities and Old Testament legal proscriptions must remain valid in Christianity. Most modern Christians ignore this fact, but the historic atrocities committed by Christianity were frequently based on Biblical precepts which completely contradict modern and secular society.

                  1. Hey Irish, your understanding of Christian theology is completely wrong. The entire point of the new testament is that there is a new covenant between God and man in the person of Jesus that wipes away the old covenant with Abraham and Moses. That’s the whole point of the Gospel. It is kinda hard to miss that basic precept, even if you don’t subscribe to their beliefs.

                    Not that this concept doesn’t create a bunch of weird contradictions. It certainly does. But you can’t pretend the entire main point of Christianity doesn’t exist because you made a facile argument about God changing his mind is silly.

                    1. No, that understanding’s wrong too. All the deals with Jehova are still on the table. The one with Noah still applies, and you can sign on with the one with Abraham or the one with Peter.

                2. Christianity was spread as violently as Islam after the Roman empire fell. All religions are violent; eventually the peaceful sects win out.

                  1. Christianity did not spread violently following the fall of the Western Empire.

                    1. Yes it did. Emperor Theodosius forbid pagan worship in what was left of the Roman Emperor (that might have been before the fall). The Constantine Shift saw Christianity go from persecuted to persecuting, particularly during the Crusades and post-Moorish Spain.

                3. JeremyR is correct.

                  1. No he isn’t. The statement ‘the only reason we have secular society is because of Christianity’ is a load of shit and clearly contradicted by the existence of secular non-Christian societies in Asia particularly China.

                    Christians want to believe so badly they are fundamentally different. They’re not. Islam is more bracing in its ‘I am a slave for Allah’ opening line but really it’s the same as every medieval monotheism.

                    1. There is absolutely no doubt that modern secular society, including the concepts of liberty that libertarians are rather fond of, grew out of the Christian culture of Europe and America. It’s simply inarguable. You might be able to find something kinda-sorta similar, but China is a silly example. Who thinks that if Christianity and Europe never existed, that China would be any kind of nice, secular, liberty-minded society? It’s absurd. Without the movements represented by Mao (bad Western influence) and Sun Yat-sen (good Western influence), China would still be a Confucian dynasty, not secular or pro-liberty.

                      Cytotoxic, you’re just so anti-Christian or anti-religious that you refuse to see history or even current events clearly. Islam and Christianity are simply not functional equivalents, either in theory or in practice.

        2. “most reason Libertarians”

          Which one? Sheldon Richman? Or Bo?

        3. John|1.10.15 @ 5:41PM|#
          “If it makes you feel better most reason Libertarians are most worried that someone might think less of Muslims over this.”…

          Yeah, why…

          1. Oh please.

            This places has always thrown the racism charge around, using the phrase “brown people” every time Muslims get criticized or bombed whenever there is a terrorist attack.

            1. And the criticism is don’t collectivize Muslims just because….

              Cause, it’s not like Islam is an ideology that people voluntarily adhere to. Nope, there born with it and it’s inescapable.

              Or some such nonsense.

              1. No that’s a straw man and you are stupid for putting it here.

                And the criticism is don’t collectivize Muslims just because…. they obviously aren’t all evil or oppressive as anyone non-yokeltarian can see ex Albania, Kurdistan, Kazakhstan, etc

                1. Kazakhstan? Dude….

  6. Can any of you cosmo leftard explain the obsession with defending Islam to me? Are any of you Islamic scholar? Islamic theologians? Mullahs?

    If not, then STFU about what ‘true’ Islam is. These terrorist assholes describe themselves as Islamic and avow that they are motivated by their religion. Surveys of Islamic people around the world find large minorities to majorities everywhere that support the aims of the terrorist if not the methods. But along come some self righteous lefty assholes that had comparative religion 101 as freshmen 20 years and therefor know what real Islam is and no that these self described believers, who number in the tens to hundreds of millions are misguided and not practicing the real religion.

    Just knock it the fuck off already.

    1. It is an article of faith among not just the left, but most educated Western people, that all religions are equal. This is the result of Europeans stopping fighting among themselves over Catholicism/Protestantism, and having expelled Muslims from Europe, so they didn’t have to be considered in the equation. Plus the First Amendment, of course.

      So admitting that one religion is more violent and less liberty-oriented than others is, to those people, like admitting that one particular human race is more stupid and violent than another. They just can’t do it. It upsets their entire worldview and means their opponents, the “bigots” and “haters,” were right all along. So they have to defend Islam.

      1. For many this is the case. For others who have some actual knowledge of history and things like The Crusades, it is still quite clear that all religions are violent, especially monotheisms. All religions can be violent, all religions can be peaceful. End of story.

        1. This sort of superficial generalization just serves to obscure the real facts. There’s a big and important difference between “was/can be” and “is.” Christianity “can be” and “was” violent, but that’s in the past. What’s the support among Christians for terror in the name of Christianity, right now? Is it more that single digits, anywhere? But what’s the support for terror in the name of Islam? It’s (depending on the survey) about 10-80%, among Muslims everywhere.

          And as I said above, the Crusades were defensive wars against Islamic aggression.

    2. No we won’t because we have evidence on our side. You shut the fuck up. As retrograde as Islam is, there are still Muslim countries that are decent places ex Kurdistan. Hell Dubai is more free-market than America.

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