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‘Shameful’ graphic novel promotes Islamophobia

‘Shameful’ graphic novel promotes Islamophobia

There is nothing subtle about Frank Miller’s newest graphic novel, Holy Terror. The book opens with the quote: “If you meet the infidel, kill the infidel”, which Mr Miller attributes to the Prophet. From there the jingoism, violence and Islamophobia take off.

Miller is no stranger to controversy. His stories, which include the famous Batman mini-series, The Dark Knight Returns, and comics-to-film 300 and Sin City, regularly explore the darker corners of society amid shades of moral grey. Any nuance, however, is all but absent in his latest work.

Originally envisioned as a Batman tale after September 11 attacks on the US, the comic features heroes The Fixer, and thief-come-love interest, Natalie, as they join forces to stop an Al Qaeda plot on Empire City, a thinly veiled New York City.

For some, the best-seller underlines a worrying shift in American entertainment. “We are witnessing a growing industry of information and fear-mongering, and this work fits in the centre … It’s unfortunate that Islamophobia is becoming mainstream,” said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim civil-rights group. He described the work as “shameful”.

Certainly, Miller’s mixing of Muslims and Arabs – the book never differentiates – with terrorists highlights Holy Terror‘s unflattering portrayal of Muslims.

Jack Shaheen, a professor of mass communications at Southern Illinois University, said this combining is a “common thread” in post-September 11 media, and that Holy Terror warrants attention by rights groups as comics grow in influence within the American entertainment industry.

After the book’s initial fight scene, The Fixer says to a captured terrorist: “So Mohammed, pardon me for guessing your name, but you’ve got to admit the odds are pretty good it’s Mohammad…” The Fixer then tortures and cripples the man before detonating his explosive belt.

Miller’s depictions of women in Islam were no better. A two-panel spread that juxtaposes westerners and Muslims/Arabs shows one of the comic’s most gratuitous scenes. In stark contrast to westerners at a cinema in the first panel, the second depicts a brutalised woman buried to her neck as silhouetted men stone her while yelling insults.

The National, 25 October 2011


  1. Shameful!

  2. frank miller is nuts especially in how he butchers the character of batman in many of his comics by turning him into a violent psychotic who kidnaps dick grayson “age twelve” after losing his parents and depending on how you interpret some of the things batman narrates there is a good chance he was going to kill dick graysons parents and kidnap him so he can train him to fight crime, in short miller has turned batman from a man who has devoted himself to intense martial arts training, and studies of the criminal mind in order to stay steps of the villians to an insane murdering a-hole who won’t hesitate to put a traumatized kid thru more hell after an ordeal of losing his family classy frank.

  3. Well welcome to America. Christians and Jews are stereotyped and made fun of all the time in the media. I am not sure we have any graphic novels trashing us but in a society where freedom of speech is considered fundamental to its survival about every group out there is going to be a target at some point. Given that people are focused on overseas wars and the threat of Islamic terrorists, this type of comic will make someone quite a bit of money.

    Then again there are the Muslim comics such as “Son of the Martyr” which shows three children using a toy car to blow up tanks.

    Another comic is also scheduled for release: I think it is simply called Jihad cartoon

    According to Site, the, AQAP creator of the cartoon:

    “touted [it] as an ‘educational production’ to teach youths about the ‘noble life’ within a Shariah-based system, and wrote that it will contain depictions of AQAP operations and will incite youths to follow the steps of the fighters.

    The posting in the Jihadist forum indicated that the comic will be officially sanctioned by AQAP at the highest level.

    I realize that these 2 comics are not produced in America but they are produced in countries with little freedom of speech meaning you have to speak within correct limits in order to be heard. I personally prefer the freedom the U.S. follows in which anyone can speak or write their minds even if its just to make money.

  4. QUOTE:” Well welcome to America. Christians and Jews are stereotyped and made fun of all the time in the media. I am not sure we have any graphic novels trashing us but in a society where freedom of speech is considered fundamental to its survival about every group out there is going to be a target at some point. Given that people are focused on overseas wars and the threat of Islamic terrorists, this type of comic will make someone quite a bit of money.”


    Is there balance in this comic? Are there Muslims as good guys? This is how we judge comics, along with books, movies and other creative “works” for hate and bigotry. I’d like to see some try to produce a comic that would depict Jews in this fashion. Native Americans used to be portrayed as “savage killers” of poor white folks just trying to settle out West. The same criticism was launched against portrayals of blacks and Hispanics in media as “pimps and drug dealers.”

    We DO have the right – as our freedom of speech too – to judge and protest any work that defames any group and portrays “Them” as “dangerous and threatening.” We also have the right to protest and call the creators the bigots that they are.

    Now – Islamophobia is not “American patriotism!”

    The criticism and protest against the production of any publication that portrays Muslims as exclusively terrorists and violent – with no redeeming qualities of Muslims people — is what we MUST do to challenge Islamophobia in America, especially if it is intended as some form of sick “patriotism!”

    Yes – welcome to America! Now – let’s protest this Islamophobic rubbish and let the authors know it’s unacceptable!

    Another thing — American Muslims -as a whole – ARE NOT threatening freedom of speech, and it’s rubbish to imply that they are doing so…

  5. I went ahead and read some detailed descriptions and quotes from the comic on different sites. I will agree that the is a propaganda piece as that is what the author Frank Miller calls it. According to Wik he believes the book will offend everyone. At 30 dollars a copy not many children will be reading this book. I fully understand why people are upset and though I would not stop publication I would not allow a child or young teen to read this novel. Beyond complaining though the Muslim community could pool some resources, hire some talent and introduce some comics with positive Muslim characters. If they are interesting and around 1-2 dollars each then children will buy them and they would serve as a good counter to books such as the one above.

  6. Before anyone decides to say this is freedom of speech, let me remind everyone that the comic book industry already shut down an idea for a superhero who was Muslim. They seem to be okay with portraying Muslims as terrorists but will crush any attempts to make them look good. This is biased, I don’t care if it is free speech, it is not teaching kids anything but to stereotype. This is one of the many sources of hate crimes.

  7. Rather then complaining about Mr Miller’s artistic vision Muslims can create their own comics with positive images and then see if those comics will sell.Muslims are free to counter Mr Miller’s free speech with free speech of their own.Then citizens can choose to read one or both comics and decide which view they agree with. That’s the beauty of the first amendment and the right to free speech and a free press.

  8. um hera there is a comic series created by a muslim its called “the 99” that was adapted into a tv series that was going to show up on the hub network in america but for some reason *cough* (pam geller it did not air.

  9. I’m surprised that there are people telling Muslims to make comics to counter said propaganda. Has no one heard of “The 99?” Plus there are many people like me who make Islamic cartoons to educate people out there. The main thing is that people don’t WANT to learn about Islam, but rather have an eternal boogeyman they can blame for everything wrong in the world.

  10. criley frank miller manages to piss off everyone especially fans of batman just check out “all star” batman and robin where he really shows he is off on the deep end by destroying everything one knows and loves about this iconic character from having him gleefuly run over policemen, to having dick grayson “age twelve” eat rats after said kid loses his parents, in fact “linkara might provide you with more detail on the subject of crazy frank take a look

  11. @Muhd Bennett

    “Freedom of speech” only applies to right-wing, hateful opinions and actions against Muslims and anybody else that the right-wing hates. The rest of us are accused of “hating freedom of speech.”

    Geert Wilders, that “Champion of Free Speech,” has some of his “Freedom Party” (PVV) Brownshirts running around Holland shutting down others who dare speak, publish cartoons, or play songs in opposition to Wilders and his so-called “Freedom Party.”

    Last March, a publication call Joop.NL had to remove a cartoon depicting Geert Wilders as a Nazi camp guard after it received threats from Wilders’ little PVV Brownshirts. Speakers that were to give speeches critical of Wilders and the PVV have been banned and uninvited to events. In May a punk band was told it could not play the song Mussolini van de Lage Landen (Mussolini of the low Countries) at a celebration of Dutch liberation from Nazi occupation. Well, Wilders and his PVV Nazis now occupy Holland!

    So – the next time they bring up “Danish cartoons” and “freedom of speech,” realize that “freedom of speech” is just for views that they like, especially bashing Muslims. At the same time “freedom of speech” does not apply to Muslims, or Progressive, or others critical of them, as we are supposed to “hate freedom of speech,” when its actually people like Geert Wilders that hate freedom of speech.

  12. Corey,

    I’m aware of the 99, what I’m talking about is Muslim Americans writing and producing their own comics to counter what they believe are negative images. There appears to be a market for such comics among Muslims.
    Whether non-Muslims choose to purchase comics with Muslim heros is what’s known as free choice.

  13. Quran (2:191-193)

  14. Well…too be honest, I found the comic to be more satirical.

    I genuinely don’t believe that Miller is a racist, and though I can’t speak on his behalf, I feel that he is harping on the stereotypes of how we perceive the Islamic religion and followers. As a big fan of satire, I see this comic the same way I see shows like the Simpsons and South Park – as the dark truth. The authors and creators are not oppressive themselves, but try to expose the forms of oppression in a blunt and black-humorous way. Miller said it himself, the comic was meant to piss off just about anyone. He knew how people would respond to this comic before it was published. He has a brilliant mind and didn’t become famous for making non-influential work. I feel he didn’t make this comic because racism towards Islams isn’t a problem, or because we don’t hear about it on a daily basis. It is a problem, we do hear about it, and nothing is being done to fix it, so he presented us with a new way to draw attention to the problem…creating a comic that reflects the stereotypes of Americans and Islams. Batman – the noble strong heroic American figure, taking on Al-Qaeda, the dangerous savage-like group of people that need to be saved from themselves. It’s a crock of S**t, but it’s our understanding of the relationship. I hope readers don’t take this one personally and instead take a step back to see the real purpose of the comic – to reflect on Islamopobia.

  15. Nice to see here and there a voice rising to fight back the islamic cultural war and resist islamization. Go Miller!

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