Bill Maher has, over the past several years, voiced his issues with Islam loudly, and with regularity. He views the religion as an affront to the western world. It’s an opinion he’s voiced in an interview with The Daily Beast, and more famously, in an on-air argument with Ben Affleck.
On Friday night’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher—his first show since the Orlando tragedy where Omar Mateen, a Muslim man who’d pledged his allegiance to ISIS, shot up the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, claiming the lives of 49 innocent people—the satirist seemed to place the lion’s share of the blame for the massacre on Islam itself.
“Yes, the ‘God Hates Fags’ people show up with placards and posters [protesting the LGBT community] and they’re despicable, but they don’t show up with guns and bombs. That’s just the world as it is today,” said Maher. “The answer is not to ban Muslims, however. The answer is to ask more of Muslims.”
When some of the guests on his panel later questioned Maher’s rationale, labeling it a mass generalization and pointing out that the mass-murderer appeared to be a closeted homosexual himself with a long history of mental health problems who may have merely latched onto ISIS, the comedian doubled down.
“This is the American myopia: say ‘Muslim’ and they think of the 3 million Muslims in America—who by the way are the lucky ones, because they can come out of the closet, or they can elope with someone who’s not of their faith, or they can leave the religion, or they can draw a cartoon without getting killed,” said Maher. “This is not the case for so many millions of Muslims around the world. Where are the liberals to stand up for them? The people who could not abide apartheid for one second, somehow, when it comes to gender apartheid—which is in so many [Muslim] countries around the world—they are not to be heard. It is a liberal cause, or it should be.
“There are millions and millions of Muslims who are gay around the world who have no one to stand up for them, and I didn’t hear any of it this week. None of it this week,” he added. “In ten Muslim countries, you get the death penalty for just being gay. Could we have a little perspective on this issue? Size matters!”
Maher seemed to be implying that the leaders of Muslim countries were silent in the wake of the Orlando massacre—which, for the record, is far from the case. Leaders from the following Muslim-majority countries condemned the attack: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kuwait, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and more.
He does have a point, however, in that being gay is not considered a crime in only a handful of Muslim-majority countries, and being outed as gay carries with it the death penalty in the following Muslim-majority countries: Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (also Nigeria and Somalia, which are not Muslim-majority).
“Of course it’s wrong when any Muslim-American is given a dirty look, asked extra questions, but it’s not the same as people getting shot. We have to put things into perspective,” said Maher.
When one of the panelists brought up the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by Timothy McVeigh—a war veteran and white nationalist—and claiming the lives of 168 people, Maher replied, “Sir, that is a false equivalency. Come on, how many Muslim-inspired terrorist attacks have there been in the last 20, 30 years, and how many Christian-inspired?”
Well, Bill, the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 have been carried out by white supremacists—not Islamic terrorists.
“There are bad people and bad ideas,” said Maher. “No one is saying that the only bad things happen in the Muslim world. I am saying that you have to go where the preponderance of it is, and there’s no doubt that most of it happens in this sphere—in the name of this religion.”