Reza Aslan Criticizes Bill Maher’s Anti-Islam ‘Crusade’: ‘Frank Bigotry’

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Bill Maher’s ongoing criticism of Islam has attracted a ton of attention lately, with the comedian drawing unlikely support from conservative pundits and condemnations from commentators on the left.

But perhaps no one has provided a more thoughtful perspective on Maher’s attacks on the religion — which reached a boiling point last week with a fiery debate involving Ben Affleck — than religious scholar Reza Aslan.

Even before the blowup with Affleck, Aslan took Maher to task late last month for what he described as a lack of sophistication in the comedian’s views of Islam.

Aslan followed that up with an op-ed in the New York Times published earlier this week. In the piece, Aslan wrote that Maher is “right to condemn religious practices that violate fundamental human rights,” but he argued that “failing to recognize that religion is embedded in culture — and making a blanket judgment about the world’s second largest religion — is simply bigotry.”

And now Aslan, a previous guest on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” is weighing in on the evolution of the comedian’s anti-religion stance.

“I suppose I would say that what’s different is that Bill Maher’s usual critique of religion in general has morphed into a real crusade against one religion in particular, Islam, which he has on repeated occasion said is worse than the other religions [and] not like other religions; other religions are bad, but Islam is far, far worse,” Aslan told Salon’s Elias Isquith in an interview published Friday.

“And I would say that the other thing that’s a little bit different is that the criticism of Islam has really crossed the line into what can only be described as frank bigotry.”

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