News / USA

    Actor Gains Fame Leading Prayers at Hollywood Mosque

    Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef
    x
    Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef
    Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef
    Algerian Abdul Wahab bin Youcef has gained more fame as a muezzin in a mosque in Los Angeles than as an actor who performs Muslim roles in the American movies.

    Some reports say that many of the city's Muslims come to the mosque only to hear his voice because it is so distinctive and special.

    Bin Youcef, who is known by the name Ben Youcef, hopes to become one of the symbols of Arab actors in Hollywood.

    Some media reports describe Abdul Wahab bin Youcef as a symbol of tolerance in America, especially after performing prayers at an interfaith event.

    Bin Youcef said that his activity in the interfaith event is influential to the people in the U.S. "regardless of whether one is a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist or without religion."

    He told Alhurra TV that such work “will remain in my memory even 50 years from now, for I was able to reach people of different beliefs."

    Bin Youcef began his acting career after the September 11 attacks, participating in a number of commercials before joining the American Artists talent agency.

    At that time, bin Youcef’s appearance made him appealing to a number of American directors, especially for roles related to Islam, religious extremism and other topics related to the September 11 attacks.

    The head of the Artists Group, Robert Malcolm was the first to notice bin Youcef’s unique features, which suddenly became sought after in American cinema.

    The actor received a call to test with a Los Angeles company.  He performed a five minute scene from the play ''A Hatfull of Rain” in front of a committee.  His success in that test became a real start for bin Youcef.

    About the events of September 11, bin Youcef says, "The future was uncertain to me, and I wondered why people think badly about my belief. My thoughts were confused about what is going on around the world. They were attacking my beliefs and my religion."

    He added that these questions led him to "do in-depth research on many of the issues related to Islam. I stopped praying for a period of time, until I turned 20, and began praying again. Ever since, I started reciting the adhan and I feel I have found my beliefs by my own and with conviction."

    Bin Youcef is not just known for acting, he is also famous in Los Angeles’ Muslim community as a muezzin with a strong, haunting voice.  He has gained the attention of many non-Muslim religious associations in the region, and has been invited to participate in activities related to interfaith dialogues.

    One of those invitations enabled bin Youcef to perform the call to prayer at a Los Angeles church that gathered leader of many religions in a project that called for peace among people.

    A YouTube video clip capturing bin Youcef praying generated thousands of views and comments on social networking sites.



    "I wanted to defend and show the world my faith,” bin Youcef said. “I wanted to tell people that Islam is a beautiful religion, but some people have misunderstood it and misused it, just as a Christian may misuse Christianity".

    Some U.S. media reports about bin Youcef’s acting talent focused on him being a muezzin with a special voice and performance.

    "I consider myself a tool used in the service of God and I'm so happy,” bin Youcef said.  “I am just lucky because I do so but I am not special. I consider it a gift from God."

    "I consider Adhan [call to prayer] to be the only moment that I reach a great purity,” he added. “My aim is not to be a leader or in the foreground, but I just want to perform my religious duty like any ordinary person, and I am not seeking more than this."

    Bin Youcef acknowledges that "conciliation between being a Muslim and my work as an actor in Hollywood is very challenging. It requires a huge effort, but the challenge is ongoing."

    He believes that people in Hollywood "are not on the same level of perceiving a person and his culture. I think that some directors prefer to work on more humane aspects and to address the issues with greater positivity."

    "In Hollywood there is the good, evil and ugly, you just need to choose who to work with,” he said.  “So I always prefer to work with those who look at things positively."
    Bin Youcef is known for performances that are mostly related to extremism and Islam.

    He talked about the atmosphere that has prevailed lately in the United States and the way Americans look at Islam and Muslims.

    "It was painful for me and I was confused about what can I do, because things were not clear,” he said. “I refused to do some roles that are against my culture."

    From his point of view, bin Youcef believes there is still much to do to fulfill his desire to deliver a message to Americans that Islam, as a religion, is not the cause of all kinds of extremism and terrorism.

    "I think I did a bit of it,” he said. “In a show about terrorism, the scene of my testimony in a court was strong and influential, and people knew then that the issue of involvement in terrorism is more complex than they thought. I believe that there are things other than those associated with just being a Muslim in America."

    The trial scene is from the TV show series "Law and Order" during which bin Youcef’s character attempts to exonerate himself from the charge of conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks inside the United States by trying to implicate two Muslims to carry out the operations instead of him.

    Despite what he describes as the difficulties faced by being a Muslim in Hollywood, bin Youcef remembers the will of his father, a retired diplomat, about the pride of the Algerian and Arabic origins, which he says was one of the secrets of his success.

    "Ever since I was young, my father told me as long as you always remember who you are and where you come from, you will be fine but if you forgot, you will be in real trouble,” bin Youcef said. “I consider this a rule in my life."

    This story originally appeared on al Hurra.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Tafuta Fundisha-Bey from: Federal Way, WA
    August 09, 2013 7:06 PM
    May God continue blessing you. Let us all understand we are all interconnected; therefore, we must learn to live and appreciate one another. There are many rivers that lead to the ocean, and there are many faiths that lead to the oneness of God. Let us stop discriminating and be appreciative of one's choice of faith and belief. Together we're strong divided we're weak. Thanks for sharing your talents. Peace and love

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora