Maher vs. Zakaria on Islam: "Insulting" You Say My Criticism Is For Applause; You're Pretending Millions Disagree With ISIS


HBO's Bill Maher clashes with CNN's Fareed Zakaria over radical Islam on Friday's broadcast of Real Time.

BILL MAHER: Okay, so now we come to the part of what are we going to do with this guy? Are we going to kill him? Now, I've always been okay with the death penalty; not if there's any doubt, but this is one of those no doubters. I mean his own lawyer said that he did it. But I have a problem giving this guy what he wants. They kept saying that he looked arrogant and he looked indifferent. I think that they misinterpreting it. What he looked like to me is confident -- confident because he knew where he was going: up to paradise. Which gets us back to the idea that Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas. Fareed?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: As you know, Bill, I've written a lot about the problems in Islam. In fact, I was writing about it well before you even talked about it because I was focused on that stuff. My problem with the way you approach it is I don't think you're going to reform a religion by telling 1.6 billion people, most of whom are just devout people who get some kind of inspiration from religion and go about their daily lives.

I don't think you're going to change the religion by saying your religion is the motherlode of bad ideas, it's a terrible thing, shake it up and change it.


ZAKARIA: I think, frankly, you're going to make a lot of news for yourself and you're going to get a lot of applause lines and joke lines out of it. But if you really want to change those people, if you want to change that religion, then what you have to do is push for reform, but also with some sense of respect for what the spiritual values that people think.

I'm not a religious guy, but all I am telling you is I know that world and if you tell everybody, 'you suck, your religion sucks, clean it up,' then it's going to get their backs up against the wall.

MAHER: So I should --


MAHER: So let's say it's not even a religion. Let's say it's a social club that believes women are second-class citizens, gay people should be put to death, you should be put to death --

ZAKARIA: But that's not all 1.6 billion people --

MAHER: Not all.

ZAKARIA: -- but if they did feel that way then you would have a lot more than just a few terrorist attacks.

MAHER: You do know, Fareed, come on --

ZARKARIA: I've seen that same Pew survey that you quote every time this comes up, and I'm not disputing it.


ZAKARIA: I'm just --

MAHER: You're not disputing it.

ZAKARIA: I'm not disputing it. One time, four years ago, Pew did this survey and they got those results.

MAHER: So you're saying in the Muslim world it is not a widespread belief that death is the appropriate response to leaving [Islam].

ZAKARIA: I don't know because I didn't conduct that poll.

MAHER: Really?

ZAKARIA: All I'm telling you is you go to those countries, you go to Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, and they have lived happily with minorities, women are given respect. Yes, is it as advanced as the West? No. But you don't have a huge problem with jihad there.

The biggest problem you have are in pathologically Arab societies which have had 40 or 50 years of repressive dictatorships in which they have driven all the dissent into all the most extreme places. But I began by saying I have always said there is a cancer within Islam. Our difference is how are you going to fix it? Do you really think you are persuading people with your --

MAHER: First of all, by honesty.

ZAKARIA: You're not persuading people with what you're doing. You're getting applause lines in the West.

MAHER: You know what? That's insulting, that I'm doing this for applause lines.

ZAKARIA: Well, I'm telling you that the reality is you're not changing those people.

MAHER: But it's not my job...


MAHER: I have to move on in a second but let's not pretend that things ISIS believes are not things that many millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Muslims believe around the world. To pretend that is just --

ZAKARIA: But to say that hundreds of millions of people believe what ISIS does you would have a lot more problems than the number of terrorists are now.

MAHER: I'm not saying that they believe you should burn people alive; I'm saying that they believe if you make fun of the Prophet death is what comes to you. You don't agree with that?

ZAKARIA: No, because I grew up in this world. What people feel -- they feel like their religion is being insulted and so if you asked them in a poll... the point is do they go around burning people? Do they go around stoning people in Indonesia? In India? These are places where hundreds of millions of Muslims live. Right? All I am saying is that you don't see that.

MAHER: And the people who do that, if they know that there are hundreds of millions people who support that idea. No, I'm not myself going to kill Salman Rushdie, but I think it's a terrific idea if somebody does. You cannot deny those are fellow travelers.

ZAKARIA: All I am saying is you don't have any operational reality there. Those countries, those societies are not actually stoning people to death. Right?

MAHER: Okay. (HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, April 10, 2015)

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