US Arab-Muslim comedy community grows, pushes beyond funny talk in post-9/11 world

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Arab-Muslim stand-up comedy is flourishing more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. While comics like Obeidallah, Ahmed Ahmed and Amer Zahr differ on approach — and there are disagreements among some— they’re all trying to do more than just lampoon themselves or their people for easy laughs.

The comedian who made his name on the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour” made one thing clear when he opened a recent set at Michigan State University: “Tonight, it’s not Islam 101.”

For every joke Dean Obeidallah made about his Arabic heritage or Muslim faith, there were others about student loans, Asian-American basketball phenom Jeremy Lin, the presidential race and full-body scans at airports.

Dutch to use body scanners for US-bound flights

The Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is requiring all US-bound travelers to undergo full body scans as part of the security screening process. They will be employing the scanners within three weeks.

Interior minister Guusje ter Horst says the US disapproved of Dutch use of scanners due to privacy issues. Washington and ter Horst now agree that “all possible measures will be used on flights to the US.”

US Homeland Security Department deny that they ever discouraged the use of scanners.

The EU has not approved routine use of the machines. The new rule will require permission from the European parliament, and a change in legislation is required. The European Commission is meeting with member states next week to discuss the matter.

Attack on flight from Dutch airport raises security questions

Dutch coverage of the December 25 attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to set off an explosion on the Northwest Air flight from Amsterdam to Detroit has centered largely on security issues. As Dutch News reports, national papers devote much attention to reconstructing what happened on board flight 253, the actions of the passenger who overpowered the alleged terrorist, and the implications regarding security screening at Schipol airport.

Articles in Elsevier and Telegraaf question the level of experience among security employees at Schipol, also questioning whether some security personnel may have had “sympathy for Muslim terrorists”, citing a source who claims there was “rejoicing among Muslim security workers” during the attacks of September 11 2001. The security issue continues to frame Dutch discussion of the attack, and the Netherlands has announced plans to use full body scans for flights bound for the United States.