This week’s Real Time with Bill Maher featured a group discussion on the Jan. 7 terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the death of 12 people. While a large number of comedians from Jon Stewart to Louis C.K. have responded to the attack by condemning the terrorists and voicing support for Charlie Hebdo, Bill Maher took it as a chance to launch into one of his hobbies: bashing religion in general, and Islam in particular.
Joined by author Salman Rushdie, Carly Fiorina of the American Conservative Union Foundation, and CNN correspondent Paul Begala, Maher criticized the idea of religious extremists being a minority within Islam, bringing up a number of other terrorist attacks that have occurred since Sept. 11, 2001.
“When there are that many bad apples, there’s something wrong with the orchard,” Maher said. “Obviously the vast majority of Muslims would never do anything like this, but they share bad ideas … revenging the Prophet? A bad idea. Martyrdom? A bad idea. Women as second-class citizens? Bad idea. And unfortunately, the terrorists and the mainstream [believers] share a lot of these bad ideas.”
While none of the panelists opposed him as vehemently as Ben Affleck did last fall, the panel did seem to have a more nuanced take than Maher. Rushdie, in particular, was interested in discussing what he believed was a more calculated “deadly mutation” within the religion.
“A whole generation is being educated in extremism,” said Rushdie. “This is a project to seize power in the Islamic world.”