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Canadian TV comedy sketch defames Muslims

The Council On American-Islamic Relations Canadian office (CAIR-CAN) is calling on Canadian Television (CTV) not to rebroadcast a ‘Comedy Now’ sketch that it says defamed and stereotyped Muslims. While CTV management did apologize for offending the Muslim community, it refused CAIR-CAN's request to not repeat the segment.

The Ottawa-based Islamic advocacy group filed a complaint about the sketch with the Council of Broadcasting Standards, a subdivision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). 

During the October 14th episode of ‘Comedy Now,’ broadcast on the CTV comedy network, several inflammatory references to Muslims and Islam were made by comedian Linda Chavez. Chavez described to the audience how she got into a taxicab that was driven by a ‘Shiite,’ who was a ‘Moslem fundamentalist,’ and drove like ‘Shiite.’ He had ‘pictures of his seven wives’ on his dashboard, and ‘they all looked like this!’ (Chavez dramatically covered her face with her black shirt in order to mimic the face veil, to which the audience replied with laughter.) She then described how she was terrified for her life as the driver drove with ‘this crazy music’, as she sang the words ‘Allah, Allah, Allah.’

CAIR-CAN contacted Ed Robinson, Vice President of Comedy & Variety Programming at CTV with a request for an apology to the Muslim community and a pledge not to rebroadcast the offensive skit. While Mr. Robinson did apologize for unintentionally offending the Muslim community, he refused to accept the request not to rebroadcast the sketch in question.

Last year, CBC's ‘Air Farce’ apologized to the Muslim community for airing ‘Terrorist Depot,’ a sketch that depicted Muslims as terrorists. In 1998, the Jay Leno Show apologized to Muslims for an ‘Iranian Disneyland’ sketch that portrayed Muslims in a negative light. In both cases, management agreed not to rebroadcast the offensive items.’The sincerity of the apology extended by CTV is questionable,’ said Nancy Neville, Director of Communications at CAIR CAN. ‘While the network agrees that the sketch was offensive, it is ready to offend the Muslim community again by repeating the episode.’

CRTC regulations provide generally that a licensee shall not broadcast ‘any abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability.’

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